I last grew these beans in 2013 in central NY and am hoping to grow them again this year (I know, they're old). Unfortunately I have no memories of where I got the original bean seeds, and I really like the beans. They're extremely productive and appear to be best when shelled, but are also delicious when harvested younger while the pod is still fairly flat. The vines are ~12' long or more when mature. Flowers are pale purple, and both beans and pods have dark purple streaks. My best guess about where I got these beans is from some store-bought bean sold as food.

The bean looks a lot like Swiss Landfrauen to me, but it's doubtful I picked up such a special (heirloom) bean without knowing about it. The bean is reminiscent of Dragon's Tongue also, though it seemed my beans' pods were slightly wider than Dragon's Tongue.

Any help would be appreciated in identifying my striped purple pole bean. Any tips on how to tell apart almost identical cultivars, like Swiss Landfrauen and Dragon's Tongue, would also be appreciated. Thank you!

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    Since you don't know what they are, call them "Algebra Beans"; their ability to induce people to do their math homework whilst gardening is obvious, from your picture... : ) Jun 4, 2020 at 1:02
  • Ha, Algebra Beans it is! Maybe "Algebra Pintos".
    – Kilobyte
    Jun 4, 2020 at 11:55

1 Answer 1


Looks like pinto beans to me. It is just a variety of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), but speckled. The bean is popular in Mexico, therefore the Spanish name which comes from "frijol pinto": speckled bean. This is info from wikipedia, I am English nor Spanish native speaker.

I remember that my father used to grow them, when I was still a child. In Dutch they are called "kievitsbonen", which mean literally translated "Northern lapwing beans". This bird (kievit: Northern lapwing), Vanellus vanellus lays eggs with the same speckles, hence the name in Dutch.

  • Thanks for the information, Benn! This is interesting. Maybe I'll try planting some store-bought pintos this year and see how they compare with my saved seed.
    – Kilobyte
    Jun 4, 2020 at 11:58

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