Ever heard of a Quail's Head horticultural bean?

Brigitte BoucherFebruary 4, 2013

My 97-year-old Grandpa used to grow a bush bean called a Quail's Head bean. I remember shelling them when I was a kid, and wanted to see if I could find them today.

I had no luck googling it, so I asked him about it. He says it's similar to a "Horticulture bean", and when I googled that, I found something that looks just like I remember: the French Horticultural Bean. Both have purplish-red-streaked pods and seeds.

When I googled "Quail's Head horticulture bean," I found references to it in 2 old (1862 and 1902) botany bulletins. One has it in a list of "One Hundred Varieties of Beans, by Miss Lucy S. Brewer, Hingham Mass" that were "displayed at the exhibition of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, September, 1864."

The other has it in a list of beans, and says that its "Seedsmen's Synonyms" are "cranberry" and "horticultural."

Now I am wondering: is the Quail's Head is a specific cultivar, perhaps one that is rare or extinct? Or is it a regional nickname for a different bean, perhaps the French Horticultural? Has anyone heard of this bean, or have any thoughts?

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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

BreeRose, can't help you with a source but there's a bit more information in the link below. Apparently it is also know as "Early Rachel" or "The Rachel" bean.


Here is a link that might be useful: Quail Head

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 10:13AM
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A grower in Iowa offered Quailhead bush dry bean in the SSE Yearbook until 2003:

IA SC D - 2003: a.k.a. Purple Cranberry, hort. type, rusty with maroon marks, from local family who grew it for 70 years.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 10:17AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

The term "horticultural", as used in bean nomenclature, is problematic. See the link below for a long thread on the topic.


Here is a link that might be useful: Horticultural Beans

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 4:31PM
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Someone might want to write to the person who listed the bean in the SSE yearbook in 2003. They might still be maintaining the variety. I have written to people who had listed beans in previous years and several times they were willing to send me bean samples as they were still maintaining the variety from their outdated listing. You might come up empty handed, but you might get lucky too.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:01PM
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Brigitte Boucher

Thanks for the help, everyone!

Aftermidnight, I had also come across the name "Rachel" in a couple old documents, too. Not sure if it's the same thing or just a similar cultivar.

Jimster, I had read that thread on horitcultural beans when I began my search. I had no idea the term was so contentious!

And thanks to Drloyd and BlueJay for the SSE suggestion. I think I will contact them and see if it's still around. It never hurts to ask!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:17PM
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