February 4, 2018

Wild Perennial Hardy Bean (Phaseolus polystachios)



Wild Perennial Bean, Thicket Bean, Bean-vine, Wild Kidney Bean (Phaseolus polystachios) this very frost hardy climber with perennial tuberous roots. Its hardiness depends of an area where it is from. Its natural range is very wide and covers nearly every state of USA, some areas of Canada and Mexico. The most northern strains are resistant to frosts to about - 30° F (= - 35° C) degree when well established. 
 
The seeds (the coin on the photo is size about 2,5cm = 1inch)
It prefers dry woods and moist prairies when growing in the wild. It likes much of sunlight. The seeds are small and created not very freely but they are edible after cooking as common bean. It has been found in many ancient archaeological sites and was probably the first bean to have been selected in North America prior to the distribution of annual beans. Thicket Bean can grow to about 20ft (= 6m) tall when climbing. Once established the roots are incredibly deep rooted and long lived. But young plants are rather sensitive and in very cold areas they should be mulched in winters in first 1-2 years after sowing. The seeds germinates well without any pre-treatment, but they should be scarified and soaking overnight before sowing. I grew my plants from potted seedlings planted outside after last frosts. I have a strain from West Virginia. My plants grew quite large and dense in first year, but flowered scarcely. In native range of my strain - in WV - it starts to flowering in end of July, but in my area, at higher latitude (over 50° N) it has started to blooming at first half of September, so it is more difficult to harvest ripe seeds there due to possible early autumn frosts. In first year of growing (2017) I have harvested no seeds. Maybe it will be better in next year.
The seeds of this species are extremely difficult to buying in Europe. I looked for them by a few years. I read on one forum that one man descibed P. polystachios as “Plant Saint Graal” - numerous people heard about it but it is impossible to buying.  I hope that it will be changed in the future, because it is very inetersting species.
Young plants

It can grow very large in first year from seed






It is day-length susceptible plant and blooms in September in my 50° N latitude
If you have available the seeds of any strains of this bean please write to me.

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