Caracalla Bean

Vigna caracalla


On April 1, 1792, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Benjamin Hawkins about the Caracalla Bean saying "The most beautiful bean in the world is the caracalla bean which, though in England a green-house plant, will grow in the open air in Virginia and Carolina." Also known as Snail Flower or Corkscrew Flower, Caracalla Bean is a tender perennial with striking purplish-blue and white, highly fragrant flowers. It was introduced into European gardens from its native South America in the eighteenth century. Whether Jefferson ever received seeds or plants of this vine is not known. However, the plant was grown in gardens by the 1830s, when Robert Buist wrote in The American Flower Garden Directory, "Phaseolus caracalla (syn. Vigna caracalla), or Snail-Flower is a very curious blooming plant, with flowers of a greenish yellow, all spirally twisted, in great profusion when the plant is well grown."

Growth Type: Perennial Color(s): White, Purple, Blue Hardiness Zones: 9, 10 Location at Monticello: Vegetable Garden Planting Conditions: Full Sun Map it:

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Blooming Dates 2001: Aug 9 – Nov 82002: Aug 2 – Oct 232003: Jul 14 – Nov 32004: Jul 29 – Nov 52005: Aug 9 – Nov 82006: Aug 30 – Nov 152007: Sep 14 – Nov 152008: Aug 1 – Nov 172009: Sep 23 – Nov 32010: Sep 14 – Dec 12011: Aug 15 – Nov 12014: Jul 23 – Oct 23