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Cicer arietinum (chickpea)

Widely cultivated for its nutritious seeds, chickpea is thought to have originated in Turkey, Syria and Iran.
Cicer arietinum (chickpea) flower

Cicer arietinum (chickpea) flower (Photo: Prof. H.C.D. de Wit)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Cicer arietinum L.

Common name: 

chickpea (English); Bengal gram (India); garbanzo (Spanish); hummus, hamaz (Arabic); nohut (Turkish); shimbra (Ethiopia); pois chiche (French); grão de bico, gravanço, ervanço (Portuguese); mdengu (Swahili).

Conservation status: 

Widely cultivated; not known in the wild.


Not known in the wild; cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate zones.

Key Uses: 

Food and drink, fodder, traditional medicine.

Known hazards: 

In India, chickpea is sometimes adulterated with cheaper, but potentially toxic, grass pea (Lathyrus sativus).


Leguminosae/Fabaceae - Papilionoideae
Genus: Cicer

About this species

A member of the pea and bean family (Leguminosae/Fabaceae), Cicer arietinum is one of 43 species in the genus CicerCicer is Latin for chickpea and is thought to be the origin of the surname Cicero (as in the Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106–43 BC).

Chickpea is the third most important pulse in the world (after beans and peas). Its seeds have been eaten by humans since around 7,000 BC. It is widely cultivated for its nutritious seeds, which are harvested when immature and eaten raw, roasted, or boiled or when mature and dry processed into flour. Chickpea is a major protein source for poor communities in many parts of the semi-arid tropical areas of Africa and Asia.


Cicer album hort., C. nigrum hort., C. grossum Salisb., C. sativum Schkuhr, C. physodes Rchb., C. rotundum Jord. ex Alef. (full list available on The Plant List)


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