Another unknown purple-stripe
I have received a mysterious, un-named bean and am hot on its trail. Annette--since we are geographically very close, I’m particularly interested in your identification of “Aunti Vi.” My seed looks most like yours in the only photo remaining in the Zelma Zesta thread above, and I feel like every time I get a clue to a variety, there’s an existing thread from you going in the same direction!
An older Italian gentleman passed them on to me this year with the disclaimer that they are “the best bean you’ve ever eaten” and “you will never grow another.” They are not necessarily Italian, but by his heritage I presume he knows good beans! He received them unnamed from another gardener about 10 years ago on southern Vancouver Island, BC.
He’s tried his best to describe them to me, and surely I’ll see for myself in a couple months, but here’s the info I currently have: pole growth, flat bean, long like a scarlet runner, starts green but begins to turn reddish/purplish/bluish, probably has string because he says to pick at first colour change, very meaty/juicy (he emphasizes), and delicious. The dry seed is pinto-shaped, tan with brown streaks/speckles, and a faint purplish-brown overlay.
He was not able to detail the pod’s purplish colouring better, as I did ask him if it was streaked/striped or solid. He said they weren’t entirely purple when mature, but with some green or beige colour remaining, so I think they would be in the category of “green with purple streaks”.
First I ruled out Rattlesnake and Zelma Zesta because they are listed as having round pods. Uncle Steve’s Italian is shorter and curved, where these are said to be long and straight. Jimenez is more red I think than this description. The Aunti Vi sounds very similar and has an interesting history. I’ve also happened onto the Valena Italian/Kanawake Mohawk variety that sounds similar to mine but the picture of pods on Victory’s Seeds look shorter than my description. And what about Mennonite Purple-Stripe, or the Swiss Landfrauen/Weinlanderin?
Ok, then I find a listing for “Oregon Giant” carried by Prairie Garden Seeds in Canada which sounds like a match: “OREGON GIANT has very long thick somewhat irregular flattened pods, streaked with purple. It is quite early and a good yielder which needs to be picked promptly as it develops strings. Seeds are large, kidney shaped, tan with purple markings. This approximately 100 year old bean is still very popular on the west coast.” And a description from 1968: “Oregon Giant: Pole bean. Pods are long, large, thick, flat, stringless, meaty, light green, splashed purplish-blue.” It has also been reintroduced by Territorial and Adaptive Seeds in the US. What I found most interesting is that in 1990, Jim Baggett in Oregon developed an improved version called Cascade Giant. One of the differences is that it is said to now have a round pod rather than flat. So perhaps many of these purple-striped beans are related, whether flat or round. They may have spread east across the continent, or there was multiple introductions from Italy, or more probable�"BOTH. A family-tree project, anyone?
The Oregon Giant is reported to have been grown in Oregon since the 1920’s: “This variety, which is now endangered, dates at least to the 1920s, and perhaps earlier. The Portland Seed Co. listed it in 1921, calling it 'Dickenson's Yount.' Their description explained that ‘The origin of this bean is unknown but it has been planted in home gardens in Oregon for many years and the fortunate few who have obtained seed consider it the best bean for table or canning green.’” I’ve even found a mention for Dickenson’s Yount from 1917.
I’m curious whether Oregon Giant could be the same as the Aunti Vi, and maybe this bean was introduced to Vancouver Island from Italy in 1911, and then traveled down the West Coast to Oregon over a 10 year period.
All the pod pictures referenced in the threads at the top have disappeared, and I would love to see any pod shots of Oregon Giant and Auntie Vi, if possible. I've also included a photo of my seeds.
Thanks to all that help with these crazy quests!