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Black gram [Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper ]


The situation in Japan and information from the NIAS genebank
Black gram has neither been grown nor used in Japan. Recently, black gram is imported to Japan mainly from Thailand and Myanmar to make "moyashi" (bean sprout).
Black gram is considered to bave been domesticated in India from its wild ancestral form (V.mungo var.silvestris Lukoki, Marechal & Otoul). Center of genetic diversity is found in India (Zeven and de Wet. 1982). Natural distribution of V.mungo var.silvestris ranges from India to Myanmar (Tateishi. 1996).
Black gram belongs to the subgenus Ceratotropis in the genus Vigna. The genus Vigna, together with the closely related genus Phaseolus, forms a coplex taxonomic group, called Phaseolus-Vigna complex.
Verdcourt (1970) proposed a very restricted concept of Phaseolus, limiting it exclusively to those American species with a tightly coiled style and pollen grains lacking course reticulation, hence, promoting significantly the concept of Vigna. According to his proposal, black gram and its relatives (which is now recognized as the subgenus Ceratotropis) were transferred to the genus Vigna from the genus Phaseolus. Marechal et al. (1978) followed Verdcourt and presented a monograph on the Phaseolus-Vigna complex. Their taxonomic system is generally accepted now.
Taxonomic treatment of black gram and mungbean (V.radiata) has been confused. Verdcourt (1970) proposed that these two species should be treated as a single species. However, Marechal et al. (1978) considered these two as distinct species and his proposal was supported by many taxonomists. Two botanical varieties were recognized in V.mungo. V.mungo var.mungo is the cultivated form (black gram), var.silvestris is the wild ancestral form of black gram (Lukoki et al.1980). 2n=22.
Black gram is an annual food legume. It shows both erect and crawling growth habit. There are several distinct characters between black gram and mungbean. Flower color of black gram is bright yellow, while that of mungbean is pale yellow.
Pocket on the keel, which is a characteristics of the subgenus Ceratotropis, of black gram is longer than that of mungbean. Pod of black gram is shorter than that of mungbean. Pod of black gram attaches upright to the peduncle, while mungbean pod attaches sideward or downward to the peduncle. In most cases, seed color is dull black. However, shiny black and shiny green seeded black gram is also cultivated in Nepal.
The area of traditional cultivation of black gram is confined to the South Asia and adjacent regions (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar).
Black gram is cooked as "dhal soup" (split dehusked bean soup) in the South Asia and adjacent regions.
Lukoki,L., R.Marechal and E.Otoul. 1980. Les ancetres sauvages des haricots cultives: Vigna radiata (L.)Wilczek et V.mungo (L.)Hepper. Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belgique. 50: 385-391.
Marechal,R., J.M.Mascherpa and F.Stainer. 1978. Etude taxonomique d'un groupe complexe d'speces des genres Phaseolus et Vigna (Papilionaceae) sur la base de donnees morphologiques et polliniques, traitees par l'analyse informatique. Boissiera 28 : 1-273.
Tateishi,Y. 1996. Systematics of the species of Vigna subgenus Ceratotropis. In "Mungbean Germplasm : Collection, Evaluation and Utilization for Breeding Program" JIRCAS Working Report No.2. pp.9-24. Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Science (JIRCAS), Japan.
Verdcourt,B. 1970. Studies in the Leguminosae - Papilionoideae for the "Flora of Tropical East Africa" : IV. Kew Bulletin 24 : p.559.
Zeven,A.C. and J.M.J. de Wet 1982. Dictionary of cultivated plants and their regions of diversity. Centre for Agricultural Publication and Documentation, Wageningen.