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Hyacinth Bean

Dolichos lablab

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."1 Although Jefferson 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.

Further Sources

Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Hyacinth Bean.
Growth Type: 
Annual
Color(s): 
Pink, Purple, White
Hardiness Zones: 
Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9, Zone 10
Location at Monticello: 
Vegetable Garden
Planting Conditions: 
Full Sun
Blooming History: 
July 7, 2001 to November 15, 2001July 5, 2002 to November 15, 2002July 25, 2003 to November 21, 2003July 19, 2004 to November 12, 2004July 20, 2005 to November 8, 2005June 30, 2006 to November 8, 2006July 6, 2007 to November 5, 2007July 11, 2008 to October 31, 2008July 22, 2009 to November 16, 2009July 24, 2010 to December 1, 2010July 7, 2011 to December 6, 2011July 13, 2012 to December 4, 2012August 14, 2013 to December 4, 2013July 2, 2014 to November 21, 2014July 22, 2015 to November 11, 2015August 22, 2016 to October 14, 2016August 18, 2017 to November 10, 2017June 20, 2019

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