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Mung bean (Vigna radiata)

Description and recommendations

Common names

Mung bean, mungbean, moong bean, golden gram, green gram, celera bean, Jerusalem pea [English], ambérique, haricot mungo [French], frijol mungo, judía mung [Spanish], मूँग [Hindi], 绿豆 [Chinese], ヤエナリ [Japanese], Đậu xanh [Vietnamese], ถั่วเขียว [Thai]

Taxonomic information

Mung bean (Vigna radiata) used to be known as Phaseolus aureus Roxb. before many Phaseolus species were moved to the Vigna genus (Lambrides et al., 2006). In spite of its usual vernacular name of mung bean, Vigna radiata is a different species from Vigna mungo, which is usually called black gram or urdbean. Both species are quite similar morphologically (see Description below).


Phaseolus aureus Roxb., Phaseolus radiatus L., Phaseolus setulosus Dalzell, Phaseolus sublobatus Roxb., Phaseolus sublobatus var. grandiflora Prain, Phaseolus trinervius Wight & Arn., Vigna radiata var. setulosa (Dalzell) Ohwi & H. Ohashi, Vigna sublobata (Roxb.) Bairig. et al.


The mung bean (Vigna radiata (L.) R. Wilczek) is a legume cultivated for its edible seeds and sprouts across Asia. There are 3 subgroups of Vigna radiata: one is cultivated (Vigna radiata subsp. radiata) and two are wild (Vigna radiata subsp. sublobata and Vigna radiata subsp. glabra). The mung bean plant is an annual, erect or semi-erect, reaching 0.15-1.25 m (FAO, 2012; Lambrides et al., 2006; Mogotsi, 2006). It is slightly hairy with a well-developped root system. Wild types tend to be prostrate while cultivated types are more erect (Lambrides et al., 2006). The stems are many-branched, sometimes twining at the tips (Mogotsi, 2006). The leaves are alternate, tri-foliolate with elliptical to ovate leaflets, 5-18 cm long x 3-15 cm broad. The flowers (4-30) are papillonaceous, pale yellow or greenish in colour. The pods are long, cylindrical, hairy and pending. They contain 7 to 20 small, ellipsoid or cube-shaped seeds. The seeds are variable in colour: they are commonly green but can also be yellow, olive, brown, purplish brown or black, mottled and/or ridged. Seed colours and presence or absence of a rough layer are used to distinguish different types of mung bean (Lambrides et al., 2006; Mogotsi, 2006). Cultivated types are generally green or golden and can be shiny or dull depending on the presence of a texture layer (Lambrides et al., 2006). Golden gram, which has yellow seeds, low seed yield and pods shattering at maturity, is often grown for forage or green manure. Green gram has bright green seeds, is more prolific and ripens more uniformly, with less tendency for pods to shatter. In India, two other types of mung beans exist, one with black seeds and one with brown seeds (Mogotsi, 2006). The mung bean resembles black gram (Vigna mungo (L.)) with two main differences: the corolla of Vigna mungo is bright yellow while that of Vigna radiata is pale yellow; mung bean pods are pendulous whereas they are erect in black gram. Mung bean is slightly less hairy than black gram. Mung bean is sown on lighter soils than black gram (Göhl, 1982).

The mung bean is a major edible legume seed in Asia (India, South East-Asia and East Asia) and is also eaten in Southern Europe and in the Southern USA. The mature seeds provide an invaluable source of digestible protein for humans in places where meat is lacking or where people are mostly vegetarian (AVRDC, 2012). Mung beans are cooked fresh or dry. They can be eaten whole or made into flour, soups, porridge, snacks, bread, noodles and even ice-cream. Split seeds can be transformed into dhal in the same way as black gram or lentils. Mung beans can be processed to make starch noodles (vermicelli, bean thread noodles, cellophane noodles) or enter into soap preparation (Mogotsi, 2006). The sprouted seeds ("bean sprouts" in English, and incorrectly called "germes de soja" or "pousses de soja" in French) are relished raw or cooked throughout the world. The immature pods and young leaves are eaten as a vegetable (Mogotsi, 2006).

Several mung bean products are useful for livestock feeding (Vaidya, 2001).

  • Mung beans, in raw or processed form, as well as split or weathered seeds
  • By-products of mung bean processing: mung bean bran (called chuni in India), which is the by-product of dehulling for making dhal, and the by-product of the fabrication of mung bean vermicelli.
  • Mung bean is sometimes grown for fodder as hay, straw or silage (Mogotsi, 2006). It is particularly valued as early forage as it outcompetes other summer growing legumes like cowpea or velvet bean in their early stages (Lambrides et al., 2006).

The mung bean plant makes valuable green manure and can be used as a cover crop (Mogotsi, 2006).


The mung bean is thought to have originated from the Indian subcontinent where it was domesticated as early as 1500 BC. Cultivated mung beans were  introduced to southern and eastern Asia, Africa, Austronesia, the Americas and the West Indies. It is now widespread throughout the Tropics and is found from sea level up to 1850 m altitude in the Himalayas (Lambrides et al., 2006; Mogotsi, 2006).

The mung bean is a fast-growing, warm-season legume. It reaches maturity very quickly under tropical and subtropical conditions where optimal temperatures are about 28-30°C and always above 15°C. It can be sown during summer and autumn. It does not require large amounts of water (600-1000 mm rainfall/year) and is tolerant of drought. It is sensitive to waterlogging. High moisture at maturity tend to spoil the seeds that may sprout before being harvested (Mogotsi, 2006). The mung bean grows on a wide range of soils but prefers well-drained loams or sandy loams, with pH ranging from 5 to 8. It is somewhat tolerant to saline soils (Mogotsi, 2006).

Mung bean production is mainly (90%) situated in Asia: India is the largest producer with more than 50% of world production but consumes almost its entire production. China produces large amounts of mung beans, which represents 19% of its legume production. Thailand is the main exporter and its production increased by 22% per year within 1980-2000 (Lambrides et al., 2006). Though it is produced in many African countries, the mung bean is not a major crop there (Mogotsi, 2006).

Forage management

Mung bean seed yields are about 0.4 t/ha but yields as high as 2.5 t/ha can be reached with selected varieties in Asia (AVRDC, 2012). Mung beans can be sown alone or intercropped with other crops such as other legumes, sugarcane, maize, sorghum, fodder grasses or trees (Göhl, 1982). Intercropping can be done on a temporal basis: modern varieties ripen within 60-75 days and there is enough time to harvest another crop during the growing season. For instance, in monsoonal areas, it is possible to sow mung bean and harvest it before the monsoon season when rice is planted. It is also possible to grow mung bean on residual moisture after rice harvest (Mogotsi, 2006). Forage yields range from 0.64 t/ha of green matter under unfertilized conditions to about 1.8 t/ha with fertilization(FAO, 2012)


Seed harvest

Mung bean crops grown for seeds are generally harvested when pods begin to darken. They are mostly hand-picked at weekly intervals. In recent varieties in which the plants mature uniformly, the whole plants are harvested and sun-dried before being threshed. Once pods have dried, the seeds are removed by beating or trampling (Mogotsi, 2006).

Forage harvest

The mung bean can be grazed six weeks after planting and two grazings are usually obtained (FAO, 2012). It can be used to make hay: it should be cut as it begins to flower then and quickly dried for storage. It is possible to make hay without compromising seed harvest.

Environmental impact

Cover crop and soil improver

The mung bean can be used as a cover crop before or after cereal crops. It makes a good green manure. The mung bean is a N-fixing legume that can provide high amounts of biomass (7.16 t biomass/ha) and N to the soil (ranging from 30 to 251 kg/ha) (Hoorman et al., 2009; George et al., 1995 cited by Devendra et al., 2001; Meelu et al., 1992). Green manure should be ploughed in when the plant is in full flower (FAO, 2012).

Potential constraints

Antinutritional factors

Mung beans contain several antinutritional factors (trypsin inhibitors, chemotrypsin inhibitor, tannins and lectins) (Wiryawan et al., 1997). The amounts of antinutritional factors vary greatly among mung bean types and can be reduced through processing methods such as soaking, cooking or extruding (Lambrides et al., 2006; Mogotsi, 2006; Wiryawan et al., 1997). However, in some cases, these metabolites were found to have no negative effects (Creswell, 1981).

Nutritional attributes


Mung beans are rich in protein (20-30% DM) and starch (> 45% DM) with a low lipid content (< 2% DM) and variable but generally low amounts of fibre (crude fibre 6.5% DM in average). The amino acid profile of mung beans is similar to that of soybean.

Mung bean by-products

The by-product of mung bean vermicelli processing contains 11-23% crude protein, 0.4-1.8% ether extract, 13-36% crude fibre, 0.30- 0.68 % calcium and 0.17-0.39 % phosphorus depending on the mung bean material (Sitthigripong et al., 1998).


Fresh mung bean forage has a moderate (13%) to high (21% DM) protein content. Like other legume straws, mung bean straw is higher in protein (9-12%) than cereal straws. 



Information on the use of mung beans in ruminants is limited. Mung beans are highly fermentable in the rumen and compare favourably with coconut meal, palm meal (mechanically or solvent extracted) and dried brewer's grains (Chumpawadee et al., 2005). In a comparison of several legume seeds in the Southern Great Plains of the USA, the protein and in vitro digestible DM of mung beans indicated that they could be efficient replacements for maize or cottonseed meal in livestock diets, assuming that mung bean could generate enough grain biomass to be cost-effective. Though not as effective as soybean, the mung bean was capable of accumulating useful levels of protein and digestible dry matter under the variable growing conditions of the study (Rao et al., 2009). 

Mung bean bran (chuni)

Mung bean chuni could be included at 50% in concentrates offered to buffaloes fed on rice straw diet. It met animal maintenance requirements without any adverse effect on nutrient utilization (Krishna et al., 2002).


Mung bean forage could sustain sheep maintenance without adverse effects (Garg et al., 2004). Mung bean straw (haulms) can be used as other cereal and legume straws. In the highlands of Afghanistan, they are mixed with rice straw and wheat straw to make a bulky component in sheep and goat diets (Fitzherbert, 2007). In a comparison of sheep and goat feeding, mung bean straw was found to be palatable to both species with no deleterious effects on animal health (Khatik et al., 2007). Reported OM digestibilities were moderate, 56 and 61% in sheep and goats respectively (Kathik et al., 2007). DM digestibility of mung bean straw (64%) fed to ewes ad libitum was similar to that of the straws of groundnut, alfalfa and cowpea and higher to that of cajan pea straw (54%). Feeding ewes with mung bean straw increased overall DM intake from 12.6 to 18.9 g/kg LW/day (McMeniman et al., 1988).



Growing pigs

Mung beans are rich in protein with a high lysine content, but the raw seeds contain antinutritional factors that may limit their use in pigs (Maxwell et al., 1989). Processed seeds have a higher digestibility in growing pigs: extrusion proved to be more effective than cooking or roasting (Canizales et al., 2009). Mung beans used as a supplementary source of lysine could be included up to 10% in the diets of growing pigs with gain performance similar to that obtained with maize-soybean based diets (Maxwell et al., 1989). Inclusion level could be increased up to 30% with specific cultivars (Wiryawan et al., 1997). In finishing pigs, proposed inclusion levels have been lower (6 to 9%) (Maxwell et al., 1986a) though higher rates (up to 16%) were shown to have little negative effect on performance (Maxwell et al., 1989).


Gestating sows could be fed up to 16% of mung beans without negative effects on animal performance or litter size (Luce et al., 1988). 19% dietary inclusion had negative effects on gestating sows, notably a lower weight gain during pregnancy and lower milk production (Maxwell et al., 1986b).

Mung bean by-products

The by-product of mung bean vermicelli has been tested in pig diets with unsatisfying results, due to its bulk and fibre content. It could replace up to 75% rice bran in pig diets and older animals had better performance. Higher inclusion rates resulted in higher intake but were detrimental to feed conversion ratio (Sitthigripong, 1996). Amino acid supplementation failed to make diets based on this product as efficicient as a maize-soybean meal based diet (Sitthigripong et al., 1998).

Mung bean bran (chuni) could be included at 15% level in the rations of finisher crossbred pigs (Ravi et al., 2005).


Mung bean forage has been assessed with 8 other tropical legumes as a potential alternative protein feed for pigs and ranked among the more suitable ones (Bui Huy Nhu Phuc, 2000).


Mung bean has a higher energy value than many other legume seeds (Wiryawan et al., 1995). It is a high value resource for poultry feeds.


High levels of mung beans have been tested in young broilers without loss of growth performance or feed efficiency: up to 40% mung bean in diet allowed the same performance than the maize-soybean meal based control diet. Feed efficiency was affected only when the energy level of the diet was not adjusted. There was no effect of raw mung bean on pancreas weight, and boiling mung bean did not produce higher performance. It can be concluded that no harmful antinutritional factors were present (Creswell, 1981).


Raw mung beans introduced at levels of 15% or 30% in diets did not result in reduced egg production or feed efficiency (Robinson et al., 2001). However, egg production was significantly depressed at 45%. Pelleting diets had no effect at 15% or 30% inclusion rate, but had a positive effect on production at 45% level (Robinson et al., 2001). In all cases body weight was slightly depressed by the inclusion of mung beans in the diet. The general recommendation is to use mung beans at levels up to 30% in layer diets, provided that the diet is properly balanced (notably in amino acids).


Little information seems available from international literature on mung bean utilization in the rabbit. In a study where soybean meal was replaced by mung beans in complete feeds for growing rabbits, mung beans could be introduced up to 24% in the diet without performance impairment. The 10% lower growth rate observed at 32% inclusion rate may be related with the lower protein digestibility attributed to mung beans when compared to soybean meal (73 vs 85%) (Amber, 2000).


Asian sea bass (Lates calcarifer)

Mung beans can be used as a protein source at up to 18% in the diet of Asian sea bass without affecting growth (Eusebio et al., 2000).

Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)

Nile tilapia fry could be fed on mung beans as partial replacer of fish meal. Best results were obtained at 25% fish meal replacement (de Silva et al., 1989)


India prawn (Fenneropenaeus indicus)

Indian prawns (Fenneropenaeus indicus) fed a soybean meal-based diet where mung beans replaced 9% of the protein had a significantly lower weight gain, growth rate and survival rate than those fed the control diet (Eusebio et al., 1998).


Heuzé V., Tran G., Bastianelli D., Lebas F., 2013. Mung bean (Vigna radiata). A programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. Last updated on August 13, 2013, 21:41


Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 26.9       1  
Crude protein % DM 17.1 4.2 13.0 21.3 3  
Crude fibre % DM 22.5   21.0 23.9 2  
NDF % DM 28.4       1  
Ether extract % DM 3.0 0.7 2.4 3.7 3  
Ash % DM 11.4 1.9 9.5 13.2 3  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.0   17.1 18.0 2 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 24.7       1  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 3.4       1  
Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Arginine % protein 7.7       1  
Histidine % protein 2.1       1  
Isoleucine % protein 4.1       1  
Leucine % protein 7.7       1  
Lysine % protein 4.1       1  
Methionine % protein 1.1       1  
Phenylalanine % protein 5.2       1  
Threonine % protein 4.3       1  
Tyrosine % protein 3.6       1  
Valine % protein 5.4       1  
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 72.8         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 69.6         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 12.5         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.0         *
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 54.9          
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 9.9         *
Nitrogen digestibility, growing pig % 59.0       1  

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Bui Huy Nhu Phuc, 2006; Mastrapa et al., 2000; Patel, 1966

Last updated on 13/08/2013 22:21:12

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 88.2       1  
Crude protein % DM 9.8 1.3 8.7 11.6 4  
Crude fibre % DM 28.2   26.6 29.9 2  
NDF % DM 63.5       1  
ADF % DM 39.6   32.0 47.2 2  
Lignin % DM 4.8       1  
Ether extract % DM 2.3   2.3 2.4 2  
Ash % DM 9.9 3.3 6.1 12.1 3  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.7         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 27.1       1  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.0       1  
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 67.0   56.3 67.0 2 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 63.4         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.2         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.1         *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 65.3   61.7 69.0 2  

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Khatik et al., 2007; McMeniman et al., 1988; Patel, 1966; Reddy, 1997

Last updated on 13/08/2013 22:21:58

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 90.0 1.4 88.1 93.1 14  
Crude protein % DM 25.8 2.8 19.5 29.4 16  
Crude fibre % DM 6.3 2.6 4.3 12.4 8  
NDF % DM 15.6       1  
ADF % DM 8.5   6.6 10.3 2  
Ether extract % DM 1.9 1.2 0.2 3.7 14  
Ash % DM 4.6 3.0 0.9 14.0 17  
Starch (polarimetry) % DM 47.0 2.1 45.4 49.4 3  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.7 0.6 17.2 19.1 8 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 1.6 1.4 0.8 4.7 7  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 4.5 0.8 3.6 6.2 9  
Potassium g/kg DM 9.6       1  
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.2   1.7 2.6 2  
Zinc mg/kg DM 35   29 41 2  
Copper mg/kg DM 8   0 16 2  
Iron mg/kg DM 537   64 1010 2  
Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Alanine % protein 3.6 0.2 3.1 3.7 5  
Arginine % protein 5.9 1.2 3.4 7.3 7  
Aspartic acid % protein 9.3 0.9 8.1 10.9 6  
Cystine % protein 0.8 0.2 0.7 1.2 8  
Glutamic acid % protein 13.3 1.6 10.8 15.6 6  
Glycine % protein 2.9 0.5 1.8 3.2 6  
Histidine % protein 2.5 0.2 2.4 2.9 6  
Isoleucine % protein 3.7 0.3 3.5 4.4 6  
Leucine % protein 6.8 0.8 5.9 8.2 6  
Lysine % protein 6.9 1.0 5.8 8.2 9  
Methionine % protein 1.3 0.3 0.7 1.9 10  
Phenylalanine % protein 5.3 1.2 3.1 6.7 7  
Proline % protein 5.2 0.4 4.6 5.5 5  
Serine % protein 4.1 0.7 2.9 4.5 5  
Threonine % protein 2.7 0.5 2.0 3.6 7  
Tryptophan % protein 1.3 0.3 0.9 1.8 6  
Tyrosine % protein 2.4 0.3 1.8 2.8 6  
Valine % protein 4.4 0.6 3.6 5.6 7  
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Tannins (eq. tannic acid) g/kg DM 2.3       1  
Tannins, condensed (eq. catechin) g/kg DM 2.3 1.3 0.0 3.4 5  
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 92.0         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 90.2         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 16.9         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 13.6         *
a (N) % 62.3       1  
b (N) % 17.9       1  
c (N) h-1 0.030       1  
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=4%) % 70         *
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=6%) % 68         *
Poultry nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
AME poultry MJ/kg DM 13.4 0.5 12.7 13.9 4  
TME poultry MJ/kg DM 14.7   14.2 15.3 2  

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


AFZ, 2011; Amber, 2000; Bagchi et al., 1955; Creswell, 1981; Friesecke, 1970; Garg et al., 2002; Gowda et al., 2004; Harmuth-Hoene et al., 1987; Holm, 1971; Lim Han Kuo, 1967; Min Wang et al., 2008; Ranaweera et al., 1981; Ravindran et al., 1994; Robinson et al., 2001; Wiryawan, 1997; Yin et al., 1993

Last updated on 13/08/2013 22:22:34



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