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Phaseolus coccineus - L.                
Common Name Runner Bean, Scarlet runner
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
Synonyms P. multiflorus.
Known Hazards Large quantities of the raw mature seed are poisonous[10, 65]. The toxins play a role in protecting the plant from insect predation.
Habitats Not known
Range Southern N. America - Mexico.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Moist Soil Full sun


Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Phaseolus coccineus is a PERENNIAL growing to 3 m (9ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender. It is in leaf 10-May It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.

USDA hardiness zone : 9-11

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Phaseolus coccineus Runner Bean, Scarlet runner
Phaseolus coccineus Runner Bean, Scarlet runner
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Root;  Seed;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses:

Immature seedpods - raw or cooked[1, 2, 37, 46]. They have a pleasant mild flavour and are widely used as a vegetable in many areas of the world. They can be added to salads, cooked as a vegetable or added to soups, stews etc[183]. The immature seed is used like shelled beans as a vegetable[183]. The protein-rich mature seeds can be dried and stored for future use. They need to be thoroughly cooked before being eaten in order to destroy a toxic principle. They are soaked for 12 hours prior to use and are eaten boiled or added to soups etc. The seed can also be ground into a powder and added to cereal flours for making protein-enriched bread etc[183]. Flowers - raw. A bean-like taste[177, 183]. Young leaves - cooked and used as a potherb[183]. Root - cooked. Rich in starch[183]. Another report says that the root is poisonous[2],
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details                                         
Requires a warm sheltered sunny position in a rich well-drained soil with plenty of moisture in the growing season[1, 16, 37, 200]. Dislikes heavy, wet or acid soils[16]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 to 7[200]. The runner bean is commonly cultivated in many parts of the world for its edible seeds and immature seedpods, there are many named varieties[183]. Most varieties are climbing plants but some dwarf forms have been developed[200]. Plants are perennials but are often grown as annuals, especially in the temperate zone. Plants flower under long day conditions, which is ideal for temperate regions[200]. When grown for their edible pods, the immature pods should be harvested regularly in order to promote extra flower production and therefore higher yields[200]. The perennial roots will survive mild winters outdoors in many parts of the country, especially if given a protective mulch in late autumn, they will then give an earlier but lighter crop the following year. They can also be dug up in late autumn and stored like dahlias in a cool but frost free place over winter and replanted in the following spring. The plants might need some protection from slugs since these creatures adore the young shoots in the spring[K]. Runner beans grow well with carrots, cauliflowers, cucumbers, cabbage, leek and celeriac[18, 20]. They are inhibited by alliums and fennel growing nearby[18, 20]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].
Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and sow in mid spring in a greenhouse. Germination should take place within 10 days. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts. The seed can also be sown in situ in late spring though it may not ripen its seed in a cool summer.
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[16]Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook.
A good guide to growing vegetables in temperate areas, not entirely organic.
[18]Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants.
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[37]Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant.
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
Tony Oakes-Phillips Sat Oct 6 2007
It is nice to find out that all the runner bans that have escaped picking (or grown too large) can be dried for use in the winter. Culinary question, what type of bean do they resemble when looking for recipes to use them in? Cheers, Tony O-P.
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