Home My garden Why are my runner beans purple?

Why are my runner beans purple?

Runner bean White Emergo, Sept 4
Runner bean White Emergo, Sept 4

Blog: They’re supposed to be White Emergo!

My own runner beans’ failure to germinate this year led me to take drastic action and buy young plants from my local garden centre (more on that here).

I bought a small tray of White Emergo runner beans – white flowers cope far better with our often cool, cloudy summers.

After planting over a pit enriched with the fermented vegetable wonder stuff from Hozelock’s Bokashi Composter, I basically left them to it.

You can just see a pod peeking out here...
You can just see a pod peeking out here…

Pretty flowers

They grew happily away and I noticed lilac/white flowers: “Pretty, I thought, at least the buggers have flowered.”

However, I noticed no pods forming and was, quite frankly, livid. It was only on closer inspection that I saw a host of DEEP PURPLE pods – the reason I couldn’t see them was that they were against the black wall!

Thompson & Morgan lists White Enorma as: “This heavy yielding variety produces delicate white flowers… forms long, smooth pods with a superb flavour.”

The lilac shaded flowers
The lilac shaded flowers

No white blooms

Sarah Raven: “Eat the pretty white bean-tasting flowers as well as the beans.”

In fact, every supplier lists them as having white flowers and pictures them with green pods. Why the discrepancy?

The only purple-podded runner beans I can find online are Aeron Purple Star from Aeron Vale Allotments and they’re not available commercially.

Replacement runner beans White Emergo
Runner beans White Emergo in tray with label, June 10

Mystery beans

Anyway, Aeron Purple Star has red flowers and mine were lilac/white and the pods are much darker – so what’s going on?

Well, they could have been wrongly labelled but this was at Dobbies with a commercial label attached strongly to the pot.

They could be climbing beans – there are deep purple varieties, such as Blauhilde but the flowers are a more uniform lilac. Any ideas, I’d be happy to hear them!


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