Runner Cannellini vs Cannellini vs Cannellini Gigande - help!

bella_trix(z6b SE PA)February 12, 2007

Could someone (gardenlad, zeedman, hint, hint) please clarify if I understand my cannellini beans correctly???

From what I understand, Runner Cannellini beans are very distinct in taste and appearance from regular Cannellini beans. They are still Phaseolus vulgaris, but larger and nuttier than Cannellini. Cannellini Gigande is yet another bean, but a white runnerbean from Phaseolus coccineus. Have I misunderstood? Are Cannellini Gigande and Runner Cannellini the same bean?

I am desperately (yes, desperately) trying to find some pure seed beans for runner cannellini. I accidentally ordered the eating runner cannellini beans from SSE, thinking they were seed stock. I wasn't particularly worried. I figured I'd eat those (yum) and just order seed stock from the yearbook. Much to my disapointment, the only runner cannellini beans were listed as Limited Quantity, which means, as a first year member, that I can't order them.

So, I emailed SSE to see if maybe the eating beans were grown in isolation and if could just plant them. I received a nice note back about how, no, they are not a hybrid so they could be planted.


So, I tried again. After two more emails of "they aren't grown here, we don't know", I asked if maybe they could contact the grower. Yes, maybe I was asking them to go above and beyond the call of duty, but if I'm planning on offering these beans next year, I'd like to know if they're the real thing.

I get back an email about how if I would look on page 80, plenty of cannellini beans are offered and that two cannellini beans are offered under runnerbeans. I was under the impression that neither of these were Runner Cannellini beans. I'm really hoping that I'm the one that's confused, because if SSE is the one that's confused, that's pretty sad.

Sorry for the rant. Should I just plant the eating beans and hope for the best?



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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Truly odd... this topic has come up fairly often lately; and having experienced some of the same frustration, Bellatrix, I know where you are coming from.

I think we are all confused.

All of the "runner cannellini" beans that I have thus far seen or read about, turned out to be P. coccineus, regardless of how they were identified. For some reason, the white runner beans from Europe are frequently misidentified; sometimes as limas, sometimes as P. vulgaris. I have also been sent white "runner beans" that upon examination & planting, turned out to be limas. Confusing indeed.

It may be a question of language; perhaps cannellini is a term used to describe many types of beans that are similar in appearance (white), or usage. Hopefully someone from "across the pond" could shed some light on this.

I have also been searching for the elusive "pole cannellini", so far unsuccessfully. "Gigande" seems to refer to both a runner bean & a lima; logical I suppose, given that both are large seeded. I grew the lima last year, obtained under one of its synonyms "Hija" (it did not mature for me). And I grew one of the white runner beans in 2005 - it is completely different, in terms of taste & texture, from the bush cannellini.

The search goes on... I will be watching this thread.

However, I have found white-seeded pole beans that were similar to cannellini. One that I grew last year, an heirloom called "Brita's Foot Long", had large white seeds of very fine quality... perhaps that is as close as I will come to the real thing.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 10:27PM
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Hi there! I'm also very interested in this thread. I was sorely disappointed when I purchased what were labeled as "pole cannellini" from SSE a few years ago, and they turned out to be runner beans bellatrix seeks. I gave the extra seed away (sorry, bella!) They did not taste anything like the yummy, authentic cannellini bush beans I grow every year. I too seek the elusive pole version, as I want to give only two beds to bush beans ("Flagrano flageolet" and "Dutch Brown"). Zeedman, I'd be forever grateful if you let me know if you find them!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 11:01PM
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Here is a possible clue. The Greek cooks at here and here state that the Greek "Gigantes" bean is a runner bean. This name is also protected by EU law so that people in Europe cannot label beans as "Gigantes" unless they are grown in a certain area in northern Greece where the growers are protected from competition.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 10:22AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I speak from a position of total ignorance but I find myself doubting that Gigantes are runner beans ( Phaseolus coccineus)They look much more like what we refer to as butter beans, a variety we cannot grow here but do eat. I think they are nearest to what you call limas. I buy but cannot grow haricots and flageolets which both look like P vulgaris. When googling Gigantes I found this article which might be of interest. I have grown Borlotti beans which appear to be P vulgaris. For a sample of the runners (including white seeded) available in the UK look at this link

Here is a link that might be useful: A book of beans

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 4:40PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Oh great, now I have to buy another bean book. ;-) Thanks, Flora, for the reference, I'm sure it will be a good read.

At this point, I am beginning to doubt that there is a true "pole cannellini". I think that it falls in that area of ambiguity occupied by white-seeded runner beans. Every time I track down a pole bean with large white seeds, it turns out to be a runner bean. Like "Pole Cannellini", "Greek Giant Lima" appears to be a white-seeded runner bean.

And still, I continue to get "runner beans" that turn out to be other species. My own research agrees with Flora; "Gigante" (or Gigande, or Hija) is a very large pole lima. And two years back, I received a "runner bean" which proved to be epigeal (the cotyledons emerged). Since runner beans are hypogeal like English peas, I destroyed the plants then... but I am growing it this year in isolation. Having observed the flowers & thin yellow(!) pods (and how it set them in hot weather) I would classify it as P. vulgaris.

Part of the problem, I think, is the bean lexicon (I hear echoes of Gardenlad whenever I say that). Runner beans are a species... but runner bean is also the general term for any bean with pole habit. IMO, this leads to too much confusion.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 9:05PM
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Maybe it is a lima. The climate around Kastoria would appear to be good for limas.

On the other hand, the EU regulation states that it is P. coccineus that originated in Mexico.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 1:14PM
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I think I may have some of these Gigante beans in my garden this year. Someone sent them to me as a bonus, saying they came from Greece. They were labeled "Cannellini".

All of them grew with the cotyledons below ground. I kind of forgot about them before reading this thread, so I'll have to check for flowers and pods.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 2:25PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

I am going to make the assumption that the Gigande beans I have are the "Hija" or the lima bean version of the large white beans (I am growing three more that I know are runners). I will keep an eye on the epigeal/hypogeal feature as they sprout to tell if it is still another runner bean.

If I do indeed have the lima version, any idea if it will be a bush or a pole lima?

Will be on the lookout for a large podded white bean of the P vulgaris species, since P. vulgaris do the best here and produce the longest. Any luck with that anyone?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 3:50PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

OK, cancel my question - I see that in another lima bean thread zeedman mentioned the Gigande lima being a pole lima. I guess I better plant them soon and trellis.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 4:23PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

If your "Gigande" proves to be identical/similar to the "Hija" that I grew, it will require a very long season. Fortunately, Cabrita, you have that (says this Wisconsinite wistfully).

I've seen a very large lima sold in some ethnic food stores, I believe under the brand name Goya. It would be interesting to find out how similar they are to "Gigandes". If I can find them way out here, that would make them "widely available". ;-)

I trialed another good white-seeded pole bean last year, "Tetovac", a Serbian bean sent to me in trade. They are sold in bulk there commercially. Rather unusual, flat white seeds the size & shape of "Sieva" limas... but it is P. vulgaris. Very vigorous vines, and a decent yield. Haven't tried them in soup yet, so don't know how well they hold up; but they were easy to shell, and very good as shellies.

This year I will be growing a very large-seeded white bush bean (an heirloom, "Clem & Sarah's Big Bean", from Drloyd), but the search for a true "pole Cannellini" continues. Either of the two varieties I've mentioned might be acceptable substitutes.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 2:58AM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

Thanks for telling us about 'Tetovac' zeedman. I have lots of latin stores around so I will look for the large lima from Goya. Please do tell us if you find the elusive 'true' pole cannellini. As much as I like to try other legume species, the P. vulgaris do so well here and produce the longest. Peas do quite well too but in the winter, or whatever passes for winter around here (no complaints!).

How long is long? If I plant them this weekend do you think they will produce by November? We do have a long season, but not a long "hot" season.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 2:54PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

If I am not mistaken, Cabrita, the coastal fogs should be burning off just about now, so this would be a good time to plant your limas. They should still have plenty of time to mature in your climate.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 2:06AM
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Adding to the white bean confusion:

"Cannellini" is a specific bush common bean also known as "white kidney bean" that I grow as a shelly.

"Cannellini" is also unfortunately is used to describe most any large white seeded bean except possibly Lima beans. Therefore the concept of a "pole cannellini" will forever remain elusive or even meaningless. I know that is a dismal view, but it seems to be the way it is. ;-)

"Brita's Foot Long" is a very fine pole shelly or dry bean that could be renamed "pole cannellini" so we could have a pole cannellini. ;D

"Monteges del Gaxnet" is favorite in Spain. It has more of a curve that kidney types. I am trialing it this year, a year even more difficult here than 2008 was. Our spring has been incredibly wet and colder than parts of Siberia and Alaska. So it is not really getting a fair trial.

More confusion:

"Bond's Orcas Lima" is a very early pole runner with large seeds and good eating quality. It easily produced mature seed here in the PNW even in a very difficult year like 2008.

"Bianco di Spagna" or "Italian Butter Bean" is sold by seed companies as a common bean but it is a runner with huge shellies up to 1-3/4 inches long. It is fairly late but does produce mature seed here in the PNW.

"Cannellini Gigante" is a pole runner with very large seeds that will produce dry seed here. Good shellies.

"Delucci Cannellini" is a pole runner that will produce dry seed here. Very large and good quality shellies.

"Gigantes" is a very large seeded pole runner bean that is only grown in a specific region in Greece. The name is protected by EU law so if you grow these in other parts of the EU, you have to call them something else.

"Gigandes" is a large seeded Lima that is sold by that name by Purcell Mountain Farms. It makes an outstanding bean soup with little added to it besides onion and salt. I have about 2 gallons of it on cooking this morning. I would love to be able to grow that one.- Dick

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 1:53PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

""Brita's Foot Long" is a very fine pole shelly or dry bean that could be renamed "pole cannellini" so we could have a pole cannellini. ;D"

I second the motion. It's probably as close as we are likely to get to the bush variety. The fact that it is tasty & highly productive doesn't hurt either. Tip o' the hat to Salt Spring Seeds in Canada for introducing it, too bad they no longer ship to the States.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 2:58PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Hmmmmmm, I alway buy my garlic from Salt Spring Seeds, I'll be sending Dan some of my Italian beans to trial this fall sooooo maybe I should order some Brita's :).


    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 3:59PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I love it when some of these old threads get linked to, as this just was. It provides a chance to update them with new info.

One other bean has surfaced as a good "pole Cannellini" substitute - "Tarbais". Like "Gigandes", it is a geographically-protected name in the E.U. This is another good white-seeded P. vulgaris pole bean. There is a GW thread on it, link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tarbais

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 9:06PM
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Where would a Southern bean collector get Gigantes?
It would be wonderful if you could list your 10 best types of bean & a source to buy them for us beginners( on a new thread).
I have raised beans/peas all my live, but only the common types.
Thank you for all that you do for the bean world.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:51PM
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Jolj, you would get Gigantes on ebay right now. Just put this in the search string:

Include the parenthesis


    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 2:18PM
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LoboGothic(6b SW Ontario CANADA)

Now 2 years later, just received some Cannellini Runner Pole beans from Mandy's Greenhouse, business closing May 2014. Will grow out and report. Think it will be interesting because in the description, "Not to be confused with other lima varieties". Other comments, Plants to 6' plus, 90 days, said to have come originally from Argentina. Seeds are large, white, slightly elongated.


Here is a link that might be useful: Mandy's Greenhouse Beans Page

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 12:00PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

'Cannellini White Runner' from Mandy's Greenhouse. Not the best pic but it will give you an idea of what the seed looks like.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 2:57PM
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