Updated 3 October 2021
The only relative of the beans that we humans consume for food that is indigenous to eastern North America. There are a number of other species of Phaseolus that occur in North America, but all hail from the desert southwest. Wild Bean reaches the northern limit of its distribution in southern New York – it doesn’t make it quite to Ulster County, but can be found just south of us in Orange, Rockland and Westchester Counties, as well as Long Island and western Connecticut. Can Wild Bean be dried, stored and cooked just like cultivated beans? Absolutely – it’s quite closely related to the Lima Bean. Pods are edible as well. The beans are smaller and the plant has not been selected for productivity, so you’ll have to plant quite a few to make a meal. Providing a structure for the plants to climb on helps increase productivity – moreover this is a perennial plant that becomes more productive as it matures over the course of a few years.