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Beetroot »« Beans: French beans

Beans Runner beans

Phaseolus coccineus


Runner beans, with their colourful flowers, make an attractive addition to a garden, and add a good hit of flavour to a plate.

Part of the legume family, they grow on vines that can be trained to grow up trellises or canes, and are one of many similar varieties of bean. Often confused with the French bean – the two often being incorrectly classified together as ‘green beans’ – the runner bean tends to be larger and flatter, with a thicker skin and stronger flavour. The beans inside are a purple colour.

Runner beans are a good source of protein, fibre and folate.



Due to being from the same family, Fabaceae, all types of beans share much of their history. One of the earliest plants known in cultivation, it is believed that they have been part of humans’ diet since at least 6,000BC.

The runner bean was brought to England by King Charles II’s gardener in the 17th century. Originally they were simply a decorative plant for the garden, before becoming a food crop.


These can be used interchangeably with French beans, but watch out for oversized ones as they will have tough skin. If you have these, it’s best to discard the pod and cook the beans inside. With these, it’s best to cook them longer than you would French beans; the flavour will be better.


In North America, the flower is a favourite of hummingbirds.

In the United Kingdom, they grow scarlet runner beans to eat. In the United States, they grow the plant for its pretty flowers, but not for the edible beans at all.

Beetroot »« Beans: French beans


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