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Know your Runner Bean

Know your Runner Bean - Introduction

Rows of mature Runner Beans
  • The runner beanPhaseolus coccineus, is often called the scarlet runner bean since most varieties have red flowers and multicoloured seeds, though some have white flowers and white seeds. 
  • Runner beans have also been called "Oregon Lima Bean".
  • It differs from the common bean in several respects: the cotyledons stay in the ground during germination, and the plant is a perennial vine with tuberous roots; though it is usually treated as an annual. 

Know your Runner Bean - Origins

  • This species originated from the mountains of Central America.

Know your Runner Bean - Cuisine

  • The seeds can be used fresh or as dried beans. 
  • The green pods are edible whole but in some varieties (the scarlet runner) tend to become fibrous early, and only the seeds within are eaten. 
  • The starchy roots are still eaten by Central American Indians. 
  • Runner beans contain traces of the poisonous lectin, Phytohaemagglutinin, found in common beans and hence must be thoroughly cooked before consumption.

Know your Runner Bean - Ornamental

  • In the UK, the flowers are often ignored, or treated as an attractive bonus to cultivating the plant for the beans, whereas in the US the scarlet runner is widely grown for its attractive flowers by people who would never think of eating it.
  • The runner bean has always excelled in the potager, where it has been able to fulfil both the role of an ornamental flower and a popular vegetable. 

Know your Runner Bean - Varieties

  • Phaseolus coccineus subsp. darwinianus is a cultivated subspecies of P. coccineus, it is commonly referred to as the Botil bean in Mexico.

Know your Runner Bean - Cultivars

    • Enorma
    • Scarlet Runner
    • Aztec Half-Runner, also called "Potato bean"
    • White Dutch Runner
    • Case Knife
    • Black Runner
    • Painted Lady
    • Hammond's Dwarf
    • Lady Di
    • Pickwick Dwarf
    • Riley
    • Scarlet Emperor
    • Sun Bright
    • White Lady
    • Wisley Magic
    • White Swan
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