Vigna subterranea

(Redirected from Bambara groundnut)

Vigna subterranea (common names: Bambara groundnut, Bambara nut,[2] Bambara bean,[3] Congo goober,[2] earth pea,[4] ground-bean,[2] or hog-peanut[2]) is a member of the family Fabaceae. The plant originated in West Africa. Vigna subterranea ripens its pods underground, much like the peanut (also called a groundnut). They can be eaten fresh or boiled after drying, and can be ground either fresh or dry to make puddings.

Vigna subterranea
Vigna subterranea.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Vigna
V. subterranea
Binomial name
Vigna subterranea
(L.) Verdc.
  • Arachis africana Burm. f.
  • Glycine subterranea L.
  • Voandzeia subterranea (L.) Thouars
  • Voandzeia subterranea (L.) DC.

Agronomic aspectsEdit

Freshly harvested Bambara nuts
Bambara plants in the field
Vigna subterranea - MHNT

Origin and cultivationEdit

The origin of the Bambara groundnut is West Africa[5] and the region of cultivation is Sub-Saharan Africa's warm tropics.[6] Bambara nut grows well anywhere groundnut (peanut) grows, and so is vastly present from Kwara state, throughout the northern parts of Nigeria and Northern Ghana.


Bambara groundnut represents the third most important grain legume in semi-arid Africa.[7] It is resistant to high temperatures and is suitable for marginal soils where other leguminous crops cannot be grown.[8] It is a low-impact crop.[9]

Bambara groundnut has nutritive value ranging between 57.9% to 61.7% carbohydrate and 24.0% to 25.5% protein content.[10] It is considered to be a neglected and underutilized food source in Benin.[11] It is reported an antimicrobial activity against Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Bacillus cereus, Candida albicans (yeast) and Aspergillus niger (mold).[12]

The brown hull showed the highest concentrations of rutin and myricetin among flavonoids, while the red hull resulted in having with the highest concentrations of chlorogenic and ellagic acid among tannin compounds.[13]


Culinary useEdit

The seeds are used for food, beverages because of their high protein content[14] and for digestive system applications.[14] The entire plant is known for soil improvement[14] because of nitrogen fixation. In West Africa, the nuts are eaten as a snack, roasted and salted, processed into cake, or as a meal, boiled similar to other beans.

In South Eastern Nigeria, particularly in Enugu, the dried bambara beans are ground into a fine powder, then mixed with palm oil, water and pumpkin leaves and then poured into banana leaf wraps or one-litre cellophane bags before being boiled into a pudding to make okpa, a common breakfast food. During the rainy season in many parts of central Nigeria, the fresh bambara beans are cooked with their shells still on them, then eaten as a snack.

Soil requirementsEdit

Optimal soils for Bambara groundnut production are sandy soils to prevent waterlogging. Optimal soil depth is between 50 and 100 cm,[14] with a light soil texture.[14] soil fertility should be low[14] and soil pH is best suited between 5 and 6.5[14] and should not be lower than 4.3[14] or higher than 7.[14]

Climate requirementsEdit

The production is best suited between a latitude of 20° - 30°,[14] i.e. the tropical wet and dry (Aw)[14] and the subtropical dry summer (Cs)[14] climate zones. Optimal temperature is between 19 °C[14] and 30 °C.[14] Temperatures below 16 °C[14] and above 38 °C[14] are not suited for the production of bambara groundnut. The bambara groundnut is very drought resistant.[6] The minimal annual rainfall requirement is about 300 mm[14] and optimal annual rainfall is between 750 mm[14] and 1400 mm[14] and should not exceed 3000 mm.[14]

Cropping systemEdit

The cropping system is semi-permanent and the Bambara groundnut can be cultivated as single crop or as intercrop.[14] Best suited intercrops are sorghum, millet, maize, peanut, yams and cassava.[14]

Bambara groundnut is mainly cultivated as intercrop, however the planting density varies between 6 and 29 plants per square meter.[15] For woodland savannas of Côte d'Ivoire the highest yield is attainable with a plant density of 25[16] plants per square meter.


World production of Vigna subterranea increased from 29,800 tonnes in 1972[17] to 79,155 tonnes[17] in 2015.

Production Year 2013 (Source FAOSTAT)[17] Area Harvested (Ha) Yield (kg/ha) Production (tonnes)
  Mali 120,000 9,498 113,981
  Niger 68,000 4,412 30,000
  Burkina Faso 55,000 8,909 49,000
  Cameroon 43,392 8,444 36,639
  Democratic Republic of the Congo 4,828 750 14,000
World 315,392 7,724 243,620



The growth cycle is between (min-max) 90–170 days[14] and under optimal conditions the cycle is about 120–150 days[6] to pod maturity. Flowers appear 40–60 days[6] after planting. 30 days[6] after pollination the pod reaches maturity and during another 55 days[6] the seeds fully develop. Every 30 days they are produced again.

Generative reproductionEdit

Generative reproduction is for the Bambara groundnut autogamous[6] (self-fertilization) and cleistogamous[6] (self-pollinating).


  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".
  2. ^ a b c d "Vigna subterranea". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  3. ^ Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. II: Vegetables. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 2006. p. 53. doi:10.17226/11763. ISBN 978-0-309-10333-6.
  4. ^ "Definition And Classification Of Commodities (Draft): 4. Pulses And Derived Products". Food and Agriculture Organization. 1994. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  5. ^ Hepper, FN (1963). "Plants of the 1957-58 West Africa Expedition II: The bambara groundnut (Voandzeia subterranea) and Kersting's groundnut (Kerstingiella geocarpa) wild in West Africa". Kew Bulletin. 16 (3): 395–407. doi:10.2307/4114681. JSTOR 4114681.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Nichterlein, Karin. "Vigna subterranea". Ecoport. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  7. ^ Ocran, V. K (1998). Seed Management Manual for Ghana. Accra Ghana: MOFA.
  8. ^ Yamaguchi, M (1983). World Vegetables. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
  9. ^ Baryeh, E.A. (2001). "Physical properties of bambara groundnuts". Journal of Food Engineering. 47 (4): 321–326. doi:10.1016/s0260-8774(00)00136-9.
  10. ^ Kaptso, Kuaté Giscard; Njintang, Yanou Nicolas; Nguemtchouin, Mbouga Marie Goletti; Scher, Joël; Hounhouigan, Joseph; Mbofung, Carl Moses (2014). "Physicochemical and micro-structural properties of flours, starch and proteins from two varieties of legumes: bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea)". Journal of Food Science and Technology. 52 (8): 4915–4924. doi:10.1007/s13197-014-1580-7. ISSN 0022-1155. PMC 4519478. PMID 26243911.
  11. ^ Dansi, A.; R. Vodouhe; P. Azokpota; et al. (19 April 2012). "Diversity of the Neglected and Underutilized Crop Species of Importance in Benin". The Scientific World Journal. 2012: 932947. doi:10.1100/2012/932947. PMC 3349165. PMID 22593712.
  12. ^ Ebere Lovelyn Udeh; Monde A. Nyila; Sheku Alfred Kanu (October 1, 2020). "Nutraceutical and antimicrobial potentials of Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranean): A review". Heliyon. 6 (10): e05205. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e05205. ISSN 2405-8440. OCLC 8690130189. PMC 7586076. PMID 33134573.
  13. ^ Taahir Harris; Victoria Jideani; MarilizeLe Roes-Hill (September 1, 2018). "Flavonoids and tannin composition of Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea) of Mpumalanga, South Africa". Heliyon. 4 (9): e00833. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e00833. PMC 6168962. PMID 30294697.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "Data sheet Vigna subterranea". Ecocrop. FAO. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  15. ^ Rassel, A (1960). "Voandzou, Voandzeia subterranea Thouars, and its cultivation in Kwango". Bull. Agric. Congo Belge. 51: 1–26. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  16. ^ Kouassi, N’. J; I. A. Zoro Bi (2010). "Effect Of Sowing Density And Seedbed Type On Yield And Yield Components In Bambara Groundnut (Vigna subterranea) In Woodland Savannas Of Cote D'ivoire". Experimental Agriculture. 46: 99–110. doi:10.1017/S0014479709990494. S2CID 86318620.
  17. ^ a b c "FAOSTAT". FAO. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.

External linksEdit