Phaseolus lunatus is found in
The Andes domestication took place around 2000 BC, and produced a large-seeded variety (lima type), while the second, taking place in Mesoamerica around 800 AD, produced a small-seeded variety (Sieva type). By around 1300, cultivation had spread north of the
The small-seeded (Sieva) type is found distributed from
The term "butter bean" is widely used for a large, flat and yellow/white variety of lima bean (P. lunatus var. macrocarpus, or P. limensis).
In the United States Sieva-type beans are traditionally called butter beans, also otherwise known as the Dixie or Henderson type. In that area, lima beans and butter beans are seen as two distinct types of beans.
In Spain, it is called garrofón, and constitutes one of the main ingredients of the famous Valencian
In the United Kingdom and the United States, "butter beans" refers to either dried beans which can be purchased to rehydrate, or the canned variety which are ready to use. In culinary use there, lima beans and butter beans are distinct, the latter being large and yellow, the former small and green. In areas where both are considered to be lima beans, the green variety may be labelled as "baby" (and less commonly "junior") limas.