Phaseolus coccineus L. (Fabaceae) cv. Eryka
Runner bean is cultivated both as a food (for green pods, fresh or dry seeds) and an ornamental plant. The seeds have high (more than 20%) content of protein with high biological value, carbohydrates – including fibre, mineral salts (K, P, Ca) as well as vitamins from B group. Phaseolus spp. constitute the basic source of protein in diet in many regions of the world. Its seeds also pro-health substances like oligosaccharides, phenolic compounds – phenolic acids and flavonoids, as well as inositol phosphates. Including dry beans in a health-promoting diet is especially important in meeting the recommendations to reduce risk for chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity and cancer.
Botanical description and occurrence:
Runner bean is native to mountains of Central America. The plant is a perennial vine with tuberous roots (though it is usually cultivated as an annual) growing to 3 m by 1 m at a fast rate. The flowers are hermaphrodite, composed in a raceme of 25-35 cm, with red, white, pink, or bicolour flowers pollinated by bees. The plant is self-fertile. The knife-shaped pods are normally green. The modern cultivars of runner bean are differentiated in plant growth (dwarf, semi-runner, runner), morphological features of flowers, pods and seeds, as well as the manner of use. ‘Eryka‘ is early cultivar of dwarf shape (up to 50 cm in height). Pods are short and contain 4-5 white, smooth, kidney-shaped, very tasty seeds. The mass of one thousand dry seeds 1,600-1,800 g.
Why to have the plant in your garden:
‘Erica’ does not need supports to climb so its cultivation is simple. It is a typical bean intended for dry seeds, valued for its excellent taste. Remember – use in bean dishes herbs and spices to reduce flatulence and intestinal symptoms associated with eating beans ;), cook beans with anise, cinnamon, cumin, dill, fennel, lemongrass, oregano, rosemary, ginger, turmeric and all you like. Experience shows that the human digestive system gradually adapts to increased bean consumption. Having ‘Erica’ in your garden you can also take a bite of young bean shoots and flowers which are also edible and very tasty.
Dr. Agnieszka Sekara, University of Agriculture in Krakow, Poland
Dr. Jan Mezey, SUA, Nitra, Slovak Republic