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Hyacinth Bean

Dolichos lablab

Common Name: Hyacinth Bean, Egyptian Bean, Indian Bean[1]

Scientific Name: Dolichos lablab (Lablab purpurea)

Description: Tropical vine grown as a garden annual; rich light and deep purple flowers and burgundy seed pods; lush dark green foliage tinged purple

Size: Twining stems grow 6 to 20 feet; fast growing

Cultural Information: Prefers rich, well-drained soil and full sun; regular feeding

Historical Notes: This ornamental vine is native to the tropical regions of Africa and is cultivated extensively in Asia and North Africa for its edible fruit pods, which, like the flowers, are highly ornamental. The hyacinth bean, also known as Egyptian and Indian bean, was introduced to European gardens by the early 1700s and was sold by American nurserymen by the early 19th century. In 1812, Thomas Jefferson recorded planting "Arbor beans white, scarlet, crimson, purple, at the trees of the level on both sides of the terrasses, and on long walk of [kitchen] garden."[2] Although he does not specifically cite this species, Hyacinth Bean was sold by his favorite nurseryman, Bernard McMahon, in 1804, and it is possible that Jefferson's "purple" bean was the Dolichos lablab.

Footnotes

  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Betts, Garden Book, 474. Manuscript and transcription at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Further Sources

Growth Type: 
Annual
Color(s): 
Pink, Purple, White
Hardiness Zones: 
Zone 10, Zone 9, Zone 8, Zone 7, Zone 6, Zone 5, Zone 4, Zone 3, Zone 2, Zone 1
Location at Monticello: 
Vegetable Garden
Planting Conditions: 
Full Sun
Blooming History: 
2001 Jul 7 to 2001 Nov 152002 Jul 5 to 2002 Nov 152003 Jul 25 to 2003 Nov 212004 Jul 19 to 2004 Nov 122005 Jul 20 to 2005 Nov 82006 Jun 30 to 2006 Nov 82007 Jul 6 to 2007 Nov 52008 Jul 11 to 2008 Oct 312009 Jul 22 to 2009 Nov 162010 Jul 24 to 2010 Dec 12011 Jul 7 to 2011 Dec 62012 Jul 13 to 2012 Dec 42013 Aug 14 to 2013 Dec 42014 Jul 2 to 2014 Nov 21
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