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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."

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Growth Type: 
Perennial
Color(s): 
White, Purple, Blue
Hardiness Zones: 
Zone 9, Zone 10
Location at Monticello: 
Vegetable Garden
Planting Conditions: 
Full Sun
Blooming History: 
August 9, 2001 to November 8, 2001August 2, 2002 to October 23, 2002July 14, 2003 to November 3, 2003July 29, 2004 to November 5, 2004August 9, 2005 to November 8, 2005August 30, 2006 to November 15, 2006September 14, 2007 to November 15, 2007August 1, 2008 to November 17, 2008September 23, 2009 to November 3, 2009September 14, 2010 to December 1, 2010August 15, 2011 to November 1, 2011July 23, 2014 to October 23, 2014July 29, 2015 to November 4, 2015September 12, 2016 to October 14, 2016September 7, 2017 to November 3, 2017August 10, 2018 to October 10, 2018