PHOTO: Kevin Fogle
Kevin Fogle
May 23, 2016

Some of the tastiest and most successful pole beans are treasured heirloom beans that have been passed down over the generations. These unique pole beans are not just highly productive, they help preserve important botanical traditions and add some great diversity to both your vegetable garden and dinner table. The following three cultivars are some of my favorite heirloom beans to grow. I would love to know what your favorite heirloom pole beans are!

1. Blauhilde Pole Bean

This European heirloom is an active climber that will grow to amazing heights. The Blauhilde plants produce a long dark-purple pods that can reach nearly 10 inches when fully mature. Luckily the pods are stringless and remain extremely tender even as they approach maturity.

2. Missouri Wonder Pole Beans

Dating back to the early 20th century, this American heirloom pole bean is quickly regaining fame for its deep-green pods, which are great for eating fresh, freezing or canning. Originally cultivated as a cornfield bean, the Missouri Wonder heirloom was intended to be grown alongside corn with the bean vine climbing right up the corn stalk eliminating the need for poles or trellises. Skip the better known Kentucky Wonder cultivar and try Missouri Wonder pole beans this year!

3. Rattlesnake Pole Beans

Another American heirloom, Rattlesnake bean plants are great for hot dry climates and produce a long green pod with pattern of delicate purple striations across the pod. These beans are tender and crisp when picked young with an almost sweet flavor profile. The beans can also be left on the vine to dry. The attractive dry beans are slight smaller than pinto beans and are brown to tan in color. When added to winter soups, the flavor of Rattlesnake beans cannot be beat.

Bonus: Heirloom Bush Bean

I have mentioned the dragon’s tongue before on this blog, but it bears a second shout out because it’s one of my favorite heirloom beans of all time even though it grows in more a bush habit. A famous Dutch heirloom bean, the dragon tongue cultivar is a gorgeous green-and-purple mottled bean that is easy to grow and great to eat. It’s a bush-type with purple flowers that produces waxy stringless pods that reach 6 to 8 inches long. Harvest them young to eat in their entirety (both pod and bean), or leave them on the plant to dry until the seeds rattle in the pod.



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