How do pole beans climb?

mattjjd24(4 upstate NY)June 27, 2008

Really basic question from a novice. Never grown beans before, so I really dont know much.

I planted "Fench climbing pole beans" around a bamboo teepee. They seem to be doing great. Problem is they are about 2 feet high and not clinging to the bamboo poles in any way. they are just kind of flopping over. Are these bush beans and I got sent the wrong thing?

How do beans climb? Do they send out tendril things like cucumbers? Do I have to train them? If so, how?

I'm sure this is a dull question for most of you guys, but thanks for any info.

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jimster(z7a MA)

It's not a dull question at all. Different vegetables climb in different ways and I can readily see why you are asking the question at this time.

Pole beans don't have tendrils like some vines. They climb by spiraling around the pole, string or whatever vertical object they are near. Eventually, they will spiral around each other too.

At first beans send out a long, lanky stem which doesn't attach to anything immediately. This is what you have. It seems to flop around searching for something to grab. The vine has a slight curl, in preparation for grabbing a support. When the stem eventually finds something to grab, it will start to spiral tightly about it.

You can help the vines along if you see one which looks ready but has not yet gotten a hold. Just guide the vine loosely around the support in the direction it is tending toward and it will go from there.

It's an interesting process which I believe uses plant hormones called auxins to guide the growth. There has been some discussion about whether beans have a tendency to spiral in a particular direction, clockwise or counterclockwise, like the Coriolis effect which influences the direction of water twirling down the drain. See if your beans show a preference.

Jim

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 2:39PM
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shirleywny5(5)

I couldn't resist a response as to which way pole beans climb. Here on WNY the vines wind counter clockwise. I believe this phenomenon has to do with the axis poles. In the northern hemisphere it is counter and in the south it is clockwise. Anyone else have a view? Same for water going down a drain.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 1:16PM
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tcstoehr

> In the northern hemisphere it is counter and in the south
> it is clockwise. Anyone else have a view? Same for water
> going down a drain.

[flame on]
I quite frankly don't believe this. Can anyone verify?
What could account for this? Coriolis? I doubt that.
Direction of sun... maybe.
By the way, the coriolis effect on water down a drain or toilet is too miniscule to matter.
[flame off]

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 2:56PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Quite honestly, I don't know about the direction of bean twining. I will observe more carefully this summer.

Movement of the sun across the sky does affect some plants. For example, the leaves of wild lettuce (aka compass plant) track the sun. Conceivably, a similar effect might influence the direction of twining in pole beans. But I don't know.

Jim

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 12:36AM
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mattjjd24(4 upstate NY)

Well thanks, Jim for the info. Sure enough I've got several plants climbing now. for what its worth, 3 for 3 winding counterclockwise, and I'm in upstate NY like shirley.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 9:00AM
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galina

Just thinking this sun model through, because it sounds so plausible: The growing tip stretches towards the sun and moves around the support always pointing towards the sun, following its movement through the sky? Except - beans actually twine the opposite way. Pity!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 7:48PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

We need to establish whether we are talking about viewing the spiral from above or from below when we use the terms clockwise and counterclockwise. Which is is for you, mattjjd24 and galina?

Jim

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 9:16PM
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tcstoehr

My pole beans climb counter-clockwise when viewed from the top looking down.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 1:08PM
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chaman(z7MD)

Viewed from root side of the vine it will be turning in clock-wise direction.Viewing from shoot side(as tcstoeher posted) vine will be turning counter clock-wise to climb or to accomplish foreward direction.Consider top of the screw as root side and pointed end of the screw as shoot side and try to understand which way screw should be turned for moving foreward ( for the vine to climb).While doing so ask someone to view the motion of the tip or the pointed end when you are turning the screw clock-wise for foreward motion.For a gardener it is bit complicated science to understand the game played by the shoots of the plant,the Hormon in the plant shoot called Auxin and the need for the plant for sun light to grow.
Presumably this could be or may be opposite in Southern hemisphere where Sun's position will be in opposite direction at the same time of observation.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 4:37PM
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galina

Jimster and group.

My beans rotate clockwise viewed from above. Viewed from the root up, they climb anti-clockwise here. Imagine the support stick had a clockface painted around it. The vine emerges from the roots at soil level, say at 6 o'clock, it would then go upwards and towards 3 o'clock, then 12, 9 and 6 o'clock again, but higher up the stick. Hope this makes sense.

Both ph vulgaris and ph coccineus twine the same way. I am growing asparagus beans for the first time in the greenhouse and these too are starting to twine the same way.

Have just found a picture on www from beans in Rwanda and they too climb the same way mine do.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 7:30PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

That makes sense except, to me, it describes counterclockwise rotation (viewed from above). The photo is consistent with this. Confusing, eh? :-)

Jim

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 8:51PM
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tn_veggie_gardner(7)

I don't give a crap which direction them climb in...lol...it's still very interesting to know how they climb. I bought a 5 ft triangle shaped lattice for my bean plants today. I'm looking forward to seeing how they grow around it.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 12:05AM
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tooticky

Mine climb counter clockwise when viewed from above.... Northern hemisphere here.

I'm wondering about what to do when they reach the top of the pole. Mine are 8 feet tall now and are still searching for something to climb. Do I cut the tops to encourage bean development or just let them keep searching?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 12:09AM
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shirleywny5(5)

Mine are also way above the 6 foot trellis and winding around each other. I'll just leave them alone. I'm sure there will be lots of beans as the tops are loaded with blossoms. I added twine up and down the trellis for the beans to climb. All the vines are climbing the twine. The trellis is for support.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 6:52AM
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galina

'That makes sense except, to me, it describes counterclockwise rotation (viewed from above). The photo is consistent with this. Confusing, eh? :-) '

Jimster, I still don't buy that. When I run my finger up the stem of a bean plant from root to tip, my finger makes an anti-clockwise rotation. When I put my finger on the growing tip of a bean plant and follow the stem down, towards the roots, my finger makes a clockwise rotation - ie clockwise when viewed from above.

Oh yes, we are taking our beans and their rotation very seriously - lol. There must be a physics teacher who could venture into a fool-safe explanation for gardeners. :-))

However, despite the confusion I think so far we are all observing rotation like in the picture I linked to earlier. Is that right? Or do anybody's beans go in the opposite direction? The picture, by the way, is from Rwanda, which is in the Southern Hemisphere.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 6:53AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

galina, that post describing running your finger along the stem is consistent with my understanding of messages by the others and the picture. Are we having trouble with the words counterclockwise and anti-clockwise? They are the same aren't they?

The passage of the sun from morning to night is the same for Northern and Southern hemispheres. Only the altitude varies with latitude. The movement of the sun is therefor not totally analagous to the coriolus effect.

Jim

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 4:07PM
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cowabunga1(Zone 6)

My beans climb up like in the picture (north idaho here). But isn't Rwanda pretty much in the center of the equator?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 4:22PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Jimster I'm afraid you are wrong, the sun is near the equator so in the southern hemisphere if you stand and face north and watch the sun it will travel right to left, and if you try the same thing in the north facing south it will be left to right. A vine following the sun or the Coriolis effect will go clockwise if viewed from above (thats why that direction is clockwise, just look at a sundial a few times a day.) If you care the Coriolis effect is orders of magnitude weaker on a draining sink than something as slight as you exhaling on one side of the sink or another. I'm in the far north and my scarlet runners always spiral clockwise, so do my Kiwi's.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 2:28AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

I see what you mean, Brendan. My mistake was in thinking that, because the sun crosses the sky from East to West in both hemispheres, the effect on pole beans would be the same. But now, thanks to your explanation, I realize that, when that happens, the sun passes on different sides of the bean pole. Thanks for the good explanation.

As weak as the Coriolus effect may be, I'm afraid the draining sink story will remain strong in the minds of all the kiddies who are told about it by their parents. :-)

Jim

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 6:20PM
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shirleywny5(5)

If you look at the vine from above, it surely will appear clock-wise. Picture a bug crawling up a vine in the counter-clockwise direction the vine is growing. When the bug turns around at the top and descends, following the vine, it will be traveling clockwise. I am in the north and all my vines are growing counter-clockwise, from the soil up. My bathtub drain works the same way.
I am left handed. Could that have anything to do with it?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 7:51PM
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treeguy123(AL 7b)

galina, your bean plant is growing in a counterclockwise direction viewed from above.

galina wrote: "Jimster, I still don't buy that. When I run my finger up the stem of a bean plant from root to tip, my finger makes an anti-clockwise rotation."

That's right because that's the way a bean grows: upward.

galina wrote: "When I put my finger on the growing tip of a bean plant and follow the stem down, towards the roots, my finger makes a clockwise rotation - ie clockwise when viewed from above."

That's wrong, because a bean plant does Not srink and grow downward, they grow up. In your case it's growing in a counterclockwise direction viewed from above.

Runner beans twine clockwise when viewed from above, whereas most other kinds of beans twine counterclockwise.

A sketch I made to show the directions lol:

Coriolis effect has nothing to do with the sun, it's just has to do with the force on huge things like weather systems (hurricanes, storm systems etc.) by the force of the earth spinning.

The Sun rises in the east and sets in the west in both southern and northern hemispheres, but the only difference is the sun crosses the northern sky in the southern hemisphere, and the sun crosses in the southern sky in the northern hemisphere (this is most obvious in the winter season, and less obvious in the summer season when the sun is higher). Around the equator the sun is at a high angle all year (almost strait up all year). And near the poles the sun is low in the sky all year.

It is a misconception in popular culture that water in bathtubs or toilets always drains in one direction in the Northern Hemisphere, and in the other direction in the Southern Hemisphere as a consequence of the Coriolis effect.
It is a misconception because it mainly effects large huge things like miles wide, not feet.

Not totally sure but I think the bean direction twine is probably the same in both southern and northern hemispheres.

Here is a link that might be useful: Coriolis effect

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 7:58PM
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Bob(6a/5b)

Treeguy is correct. A simple google search settled this issue for me more than a week ago. It was fascinating what came up. For example there is this from the New York Times 8/2/2005 "All twining plants exhibit handedness, which scientists call chirality, but botanists believe it has nothing to do with which hemisphere they grow in, but rather is an inborn tendency that varies by species. The exact mechanism that leads to handedness in plants is not known; scientists have traditionally believed that it involves both interaction between the effects of gravity and the activity of plant growth hormones, called auxins, that determine the elongation of growing cells."

In other words, an Emerite pole bean will twine counterclockwise up its support whervever it is grown. So will most P. vulgaris pole beans. if you find one variety that twines clockwise, it will do the same above or below the equator. (or on either side of the Atlantic ocean.)
(;

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 8:53PM
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daryljurassic(OHIO 6a)

My pole beans always climb counterclockwise. My flowering vines do the same - moonflower and cardinal climber.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 9:36AM
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shirleywny5(5)

Counter-clockwise for honeysuckle and hurricanes too.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 10:24AM
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galina

Ah I get it. Don't look at the bean and the way it is taking, imagining the clockface to be drawn around the support. I now look at the support from above or from below and imagine the clockface to be drawn on the base or on the top of the support. And - as if by magic! - with this change in perspective the direction changes!!!

Now this is weird! - but it makes sense and it is the same as others have observed. Thank you for the sketch too. A sketch or a photo often helps get things understood when words are confusing. Anti-clockwise and counterclockwise are the same, just UK English versus American English and that was not the problem. My perspective as viewer was different, hence the different results.

So all is resolved, except the direction of runnerbeans. They twine identical here to ph vulgaris beans and Vignas. I have been looking at other plant tendrils - this is getting to be a bit of a compulsion here :). Peas have many tendrils and go either way, Achocha tendrils come in pairs one twining clockwise the other anti-clockwise. Bindweed twines the same as ph vulgaris mostly, but I have seen some exceptions.

And thank you for the explanation of what is causing the cell elongations that result in twining. What a fascinating topic.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 11:07AM
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Bob(6a/5b)

Way to Go Galina!!

"this is getting to be a bit of a compulsion here :)"

Then you're gonna love this online text. The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants (by Charles Darwin) found here http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/2485

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 8:18PM
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alisande(Zone 4b)

Jimster told me about this thread today when I posted in Vegetable Gardening on the subject.

I'm growing Kentucky Wonder pole beans in a spot just outside one of my kitchen windows. It's been fun watching them grow, and noting that they put on about 4-6" of new growth every night.

Two of the vines have grown about 8" beyond the top of the support I provided for them. Over the past two days (including last night, using a flashlight) I watched the vines move in various directionsÂfacing each other, facing away from each other, etc. I wanted to find out why and how they did this. So I wrote to a Ph.D. bean research scientist, and this was his reply:

Susan, The twining habit in climbing beans is controlled by the
Tor gene (Latin torquere) first described in 1915. It confers the light
controlled phytochrome climbing habit in climbing beans and is absent in
bush beans (recessive tor gene). Ancestral primitive beans were largely
climbers and used this trait to climb over vegetation to seek light. So the
two plants in your case are not reaching for each other but they are twining
around (have a rotational motion that has been demonstrated with time lapse
photography). If they did touch they would vine together and might climb
upwards more as they support each other. Since the vines do not have support
(8" above the stakes) gravity will take over and cause them to fall
earthward and this action is a kind of free fall - without direction. If
they detect support again they will continue to climb upwards toward the
light. I have see vigorous climbers in wild climb over all types of
vegetation. In your case the vines are not seeking each other but as they
continue to grow they will rotate in search of support driven by light. When
we work with climbing beans in the greenhouse (rarely in the field) we turn
the vine down on the plant itself otherwise they would seek the greenhouse
supports, flower and set pods were we would not be able to harvest them. I
hope my few comments are of interest - have a good harvest!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 6:23PM
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aulani
    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 1:28PM
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esteban

A conventional and rather unambiguous way to describe the geometry is to use the "handedness" of the helical structure.
Point the thumb of your right hand in the direction of growth.
If your fingers wrap around the pole in the same direction that the plant vine does, then it is called a right-handed helix. Else, it is a left-handed helix. Have to make sure to point your thumb in the direction of growth.

According to most research that I have found, for example

http://www.eerc.unsw.edu.au/EERC-Research-P12.html

the handedness of the helical structure does not depend upon hemisphere.

One convincing hypothesis is that it is a result of the intrinsic chirality of many of the fundamental biochemical processes that go on. A lot of biochemical processes are "stereospecific", that is they only work one way regardless of the environment. However, the chirality of twining vines still appears to be (somewhat) of an open question.

If you train a vine to grow down, does it still form a right handed helix?

Apparently 90% of the world's twining vines are right handed.

more later, esteban

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 10:51PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

This morning I noticed another climbing feature of my pole beans. The stems of at least a couple of varieties are covered with tiny, but distinct, barbs which point in the downward direction. The barbs can easily be felt by rubbing your fingers along the stalk. The orientation of the barbs helps prevent the spiraled stalk from sliding down the pole or, in my case, the string.

I'm sure some of you have been aware of this for a long time. Given the interest in bean climbing created by this thread, I paid more attention and found it interesting.

BTW, they are all spiraling counterclockwise viewed from above, or right handed helix.

Jim

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 1:20PM
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    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 2:27PM
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camerondube

wow. lots of great information. i started three or four inside, and just transplanted them to the bed last week. They're now about a foot long and crawling around (don't have a trellis setup yet).

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 10:28PM
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sifornari_gmail_com

So we've established in this discussion how pole beans climb up. But how the heck can I get pole beans to climb down!

I've been growing four purple-podded pole beans indoors for the last month in a small container. I used an old metal art easel for a three pronged 4' 10" tall trellis and two of the plants have already reached the top.

Last night I wound the overhanging top of one of the plants down around the bare third prong (two of the plants are stunted -probably due to small pot size and poor drainage). When I woke up the next morning the tendril I had wound down the pole was once again reaching toward the light, as if I hadn't touched it. I once again wound it around the pole -just now having returned from work twelve hours later, I find it again back at the top.
I wound it back down around the pole just now thinking that there might be some answers on this.

I'm living with my fiancee, at her parents house for another month, and I need to find a way to maximize what little space I have (I'm using a 4' wide x 5' tall clothes hanging rack has a board on the bottom where the plants sit, with 2 60w CFL lights and an LED glow panel clipped on to the bar at the top where the hangers normally hang).

I'm going to try tying the shoot that I've wound to the pole - let's see that sucker get through plastic knots!!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 3:13AM
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