Mung beans are part of the Fabaceae plant family, which means the seeds of this plant come from pods; however, the mung bean is probably known best as bean sprouts. These beans are edible, are safe for human ingestion either cooked or raw and carry a sweet flavor, thus ushering this bean into frozen ice desserts in Asian countries. The mung bean has a similar growth cycle as other beans, which start as a seed and develop into edible form.
Mung beans typically germinate within four to five days; however, the actual rate of germination varies according to the amount of moisture introduced during the germination stage. Watering the bean seeds every four to five hours results in faster germination.
After the plant germinates, the seed splits and a soft, whitish root grows. It is during this growth stage many mung beans are harvested as bean sprouts, which are a common addition to Asian cuisine. If the bean is not harvested after its initial growth, the mung bean develops a root system, and as the plant continues its growth cycle, a green stem shoots up from the soil. This stem typically contains two leaves. As the plant continues to grow, seed pods begin to form on its branches. Each pod contains 10 to 15 seeds, while the average plant contains 30 to 40 seed pods.
Once the plant has matured, which can take up to 60 days, the mung bean plant can reach up to 30 inches tall and contains multiple branches with the seed pods. Mature seed pods vary in color from black to yellowish brown, and actual seeds vary from yellow, black to green. While most of the seed pods change to a darker color, some seed pods remain green.