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Phaseolus coccineus - L.

Common Name Runner Bean, Scarlet runner
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 1-12
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    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Phaseolus coccineus Runner Bean, Scarlet runner

Phaseolus coccineus Runner Bean, Scarlet runner


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Phaseolus coccineus is a ANNUAL/PERENNIAL growing to 3 m (9ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. It is in leaf from May to October, in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


P. multiflorus.

Plant Habitats

 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]. Carbon Farming - Staple Crop: protein.

References   More on Edible Uses

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

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Nitrogen. Carbon Farming - Agroforestry Services: nitrogen. Attracts hummingbirds.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop  Staple Crop: Protein

As an annual suites hardiness zones 1-12. Heat zone: 12-1. As a perennial hardiness zones 10-12. 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]. Carbon Farming - Cultivation: regional crop. Management: standard. Phaseolus coccineus ssp.polyanthus (Cache Bean) is also worth considering as a carbon farming plant. It is similar to Phaseolus coccineus but more suited to tropical highlands and semi-arid conditions.

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.
  • Staple Crop: Protein  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Runner Bean, Scarlet Runner Bean, Scarlet Conqueror, Fire Bean, Mammoth, Red Giant. Phaseolus coccineus ssp.polyanthus (Cache Bean).

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Phaseolus lunatusLima Bean, Sieva beanPerennial Climber6.0 10-12  LMHNM413
Phaseolus polystachiosThicket Bean. Wild beanClimber3.0 6-10 FLMHSNM203
Phaseolus vulgarisFrench Bean, Kidney beanAnnual2.0 2-11  LMHNM522

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

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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Subject : Phaseolus coccineus  
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