Phaseolus coccineus

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"Scarlet runner" redirects here. For the 1916 film serial, see The Scarlet Runner.
Phaseolus coccineus
Illustration Phaseolus coccineus0.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Phaseoleae
Genus: Phaseolus
Species: P. coccineus
Binomial name
Phaseolus coccineus

Phaseolus coccineus, known as runner bean,[2] scarlet runner bean,[2] or multiflora bean,[2] is a plant in the Fabaceae family. Runner beans have also been called "Oregon lima bean",[3] and in Nahuatl ayocotl or in Spanish ayocote. It differs from the common bean (P. vulgaris) 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). This species originated from the mountains of Central America. Most varieties have red flowers and multicolored seeds (though some have white flowers and white seeds), and they are often grown as ornamental plants.

The vine can grow to 2 m (6 ft) or more in length. The green pods are edible whole before they become fibrous, and the seeds can be used fresh or as dried beans.

The pods (which are usually eaten when young) are normally green, however there are very rare varieties bred by amateurs that have very unusual and unique purple pods. An example of such a purple podded runner bean is 'Aeron Purple Star'.[4]

The starchy roots are still eaten by Central American Indians. 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.[5] The flower is known as a favourite of hummingbirds.

A variety named 'Judión de la Granja' producing large, white, edible beans is cultivated in San Ildefonso, Spain.[6] It is the basis of a Segovian regional dish also named Judiones de la Granja, in which the beans are mixed with pig's ears, pig's trotters, and chorizo, amongst other ingredients.[7]

Runner beans contain traces of the poisonous lectin, phytohaemagglutinin, found in common beans.

P. coccineus subsp. darwinianus is a cultivated subspecies, commonly referred to as the botil bean in Mexico.

Cultivars include:[8]

  • 'Aeron Purple Star' (not available commercially)[4]
  • 'Black Runner'
  • 'Butler'
  • 'Case Knife'
  • 'Hammond's Dwarf'
  • 'Painted Lady'
  • 'Pickwick Dwarf'
  • 'Polestar'
  • 'Scarlet Runner'
  • 'White Dutch Runner'

The related species considered most useful for interbreeding with P. coccineus to increase its genetic diversity are P. dumosus and P. vulgaris.[9]


  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". 
  2. ^ a b c "USDA GRIN Taxonomy". 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Aeron Purple Star Runner Bean Seeds". Retrieved 2014-09-13. 
  5. ^ The Two Hour Garden The Sunday Times (1978)
  6. ^ "Judiones". Judiones de la Granja. 7 September 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2008. 
  7. ^ "Judiones de La Granja recipe". Judiones de la Granja. 22 June 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2008. 
  8. ^ Phaseolus coccineus. FloriData.
  9. ^ "Phaseolus coccineus". The Harlan and de Wet Crop Wild Relative Inventory. Global Crop Diversity Trust, the Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and the Government of Norway. Retrieved 12 Sep 2013.