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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: 
Zone 10, Zone 9
Location at Monticello: 
Vegetable Garden
Planting Conditions: 
Full Sun
Blooming History: 
2001 Aug 9 to 2001 Nov 82002 Aug 2 to 2002 Oct 232003 Jul 14 to 2003 Nov 32004 Jul 29 to 2004 Nov 52005 Aug 9 to 2005 Nov 82006 Aug 30 to 2006 Nov 152007 Sep 14 to 2007 Nov 152008 Aug 1 to 2008 Nov 172009 Sep 23 to 2009 Nov 32010 Sep 14 to 2010 Dec 12011 Aug 15 to 2011 Nov 12014 Jul 23 to 2014 Oct 23
Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Caracalla Bean.

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