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soya bean,


soy pea,

leguminous plant (Glycine max, G. soja, or Soja max) of the family Leguminosae (pulsepulse,
in botany, common name for members of the Fabaceae (Leguminosae), a large plant family, called also the pea, or legume, family. Numbering about 650 genera and 17,000 species, the family is third largest, after the asters and the orchids.
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 family), native to tropical and warm temperate regions of Asia, where it has been cultivated as a principal crop for at least 5,000 years. There are over 2,500 varieties in cultivation, producing beans of many sizes, shapes, and colors. As a crop, soybeans are high in yield and easy to harvest; they grow well wherever corn is cultivated.

In East Asia, soybeans are used in a multitude of forms, e.g., as soy sauce, soybean meal, vegetable oil, tofu (bean curd), miso (fermented soybean paste), and soy milk, and as a coffee substitute. In the United States, soybean products such as tofu, miso, and soy milk have become especially popular in lowfat and vegetarian diets (see vegetarianismvegetarianism,
theory and practice of eating only fruits and vegetables, thus excluding animal flesh, fish, or fowl and often butter, eggs, and milk. In a strict vegetarian, or vegan, diet (i.e.
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). The green crop is used for forage and hay, and the cake as stock feed and as fertilizer. Soybean oil is used commercially in the manufacture of glycerin, paints, soaps, rubber substitutes, plastics, printing ink, and other products.

Cultivation of the soybean, long confined chiefly to China, gradually spread to other countries. During World War II soybeans became important in both North America and Europe chiefly as substitutes for other protein foods and as a source of edible oil. In the United States they are now a leading crop, and Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay also are significant soybean-exporting nations. China and Japan are by far the largest importers of soybeans.

Soybeans are classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.


See M. M. Lager, The Useful Soybean (1945); J. P. Houck et al., Soybeans and Their Products (1972).


Glycine max. An erect annual legume native to China and Manchuria and widely cultivated for forage and for its seed.

soya bean

(US and Canadian), soybean
1. an Asian bean plant, Glycine max (or G. soja), cultivated for its nutritious seeds, for forage, and to improve the soil
2. the seed of this plant, used as food, forage, and as the source of an oil
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