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Have you seen a Scarlet Bean?

I love that I continue to learn and explore right along with our students. Melissa James, a science teacher at Center Point-Urbana High School, and her students grew an abundance of cool crops this year. One of them being the Scarlet Runner Bean. When Melissa opened up the green pod, I was shocked to see a vibrant red bean inside! I dared to try it and it tasted similar to a pea with maybe just a tad bit stronger "pea" flavor.

So of course I had to do some digging of my own to find out more about this unique plant. The scarlet runner bean is a member of the legume family. We can eat both the pods and seeds. The seeds can be consumed both fresh or dried. The flowers and young leaves are also edible. How cool is that? We can eat pretty much the whole plant!

The flowers also add a nice touch of ornamental appeal. With bright cheerful flowers, this makes for a great addition to your garden! Other popular common names of the plant are Runner Bean, Scarlet Runner Bean, Scarlet Conqueror, Fire Bean, Mammoth, Red Giant, Dutch runner bean, Case knife bean, seven year bean, Scarlet runner, Red flowered runner bean, Red flowered vegetable bean, Perennial bean, Dutch Case-Knife Bean, multiflora bean and butter bean.

The plant can be planted by seed in May and is a climbing variety that can reach to be 9 feet in length. The plant thrives in warm, sheltered, and sunny position in a consistently moist, fertile, organically rich well-drained soil with plenty of moisture in the growing season. It dislikes heavy, wet or acid soils.


  • Large quantities of the raw mature seed are poisonous.

  • This plant has a toxic substance called Phytohaemagglutinin and the leaves and bean has to be cooked thoroughly before consumption.

Scarlet runner bean occurs wild from Mexico to Panama and most likely originated from Mexico. Today the runner bean is mostly grown for ornamental purposes but I bet it would taste great in soups! To learn more about the bean, check out this site!

Let us know if you give the Scarlet Runner Bean a try! We would love to see pictures of the plant and beans.

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