Mexican Black Lima

belindach(9A)October 22, 2007

Someone on this list gave me seeds for a Mexican Black Lima. They were older seeds and of the 15 I planted 4 plants came up. Three of those were mowed down by the mower and one survived. The remaining plant took so long to start growing, I gave up and threw the info out. I more or less gave up on the plant but left it alone because it wasn't in my way. It was planted about May 1. It eventually grew to a spread of about 14 feet, 7 in both directions. Each branch and ofshoots produced multiple flower stalks. Each flower stalk produced multiple beans. Each pod producted 3 to 5 seeds.

I am allowing pods to dry on the plant. I am starting to pull pods once they have dried and can see the plant will produce enough seeds for replanting plus a nice mess for my DH and myself. They are a pretty seed and it will be interesting to see how they taste. If the taste is acceptable than I'll grow a row next year. 6 plants would probably produce enough limas to last us a year. But, it has taken 5 months to produce a crop which is a long time.

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That was me who sent you those seeds. The variety is called Tapachetl Pole Lima, and those were the last of the seed I had produced before leaving Mexico. This bean comes from a very rural area in the Mexican state of San Louis Potosi, from an Aztec village called Ahuehueyo. It is daylight sensative, which is why it took so long to produce. I'll write more soon. But do, by all means keep seed for the future. You may be the last person on earth to have viable seed! This bean was extremely rare in San Louis Potosi, because the people had almost completely changed over to commercial varieties. Yet, it was the original bean that Aztec village raised, before having much contact with outside commerce.

Tahlequah, OK

PS. I'd sure like to get a sample back, just to freeze and keep for the future. It won't produce for me here.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 7:06AM
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Thank you. I've written everything down in my journal for future reference. History sounds cool. I hope the flavor is good which would make it a keeper. I'd be glad to send you some seed. We've had a cool front blow in for the next few days. I'm not sure how that will effect seeds ripening. I'm a fairly new gardener.

Our first freeze comes about Nov 30th. There are winters we do not have a freeze but this plant doesn't look like it will winter over. It is starting to lose leaves but it is still growing and putting out new flower stalks which I'm starting to clip.

We are going to replace the fence the plant is presently growing. The new fence would have been put in place but I kept my DH back so I could watch the bean grow. Good thing.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 9:57AM
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If you have 1/2 dozen seeds or so to spare, I would like to try and grow it out. George, Do you think it would produce in Texas?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 1:49AM
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How far south are you? It might produce in your zone. I'm sure it would produce well on the coast.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 7:05AM
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I don't believe I'll have any extra seeds this year. I have only the one plant. I assume George wants about 30 seeds.

I'm afraid we could have a freeze within the month and I'm going to be out of pocket for some of that time. I may not get all the seeds from the plant before the freeze.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 10:27AM
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Here's a little more info on the Tapachetl Pole Lima. We were given seed to this bean by a very dear friend named Filiberta Rivera, who hails from that village. Ahuehueyo is a small village not far from Tamazunchale, San Louis Potosi. Fili lived with us, for a time, and learned that I collect seeds. It took her a while to track this bean down, as it has become rare. Limas are so rare in the Southeastern and central parts of Mexico, that in over 20 years of prowling the markets, I have never seen a lima or butterbean for sale. Yet, according to Sister Fili, this was THE bean which her people raised, before they had much outside commerce. It is still very highly esteemed for flavor. But folks in her village (in that zone, for that matter) are very concerned about poisonous snakes. They have one, which, if it bites you, you are dead before you can take more than a couple of steps. People have stopped growing this bean because of its HUGE vines, which they perceive, could hide one of these snakes.

Once Sister Fili gave me seed to Tapachetl (pronounced Tawpa-chet-el) and I grew it in my garden in Tasquillo, Hidalgo (where other visiting Mexican friends and students could see it) I also received seed to another similar lima, from the town of Mecatlán, Veracruz. Mecatlán is a Totonac Indian village. Plus, a friend of mine who is a Huesteco Indian from the state of Veracruz, recognized the seed and commented that his people had a similar bean, now very rare, which, in their language meant "wide bean." All three of these beans had/have black seed. But Tapachetl has wide willow leaf leaves, and Mecatlán Black Lima has regular leaves. I never obtained seed to the third lima, from the Huesteca. It is my theory that these black limas were wide spread in the hot coastal regions of Mexico, among the indigenous people, but that they have been going extinct because of their growth habit, which is not very well suited for commercial production. In these areas they are normally grown on small trees for support.

In my investigations, during our time in Tasquillo, I obtained a couple of varieties from Guatemala, which were mottled black and white or red and white. They all did well at 20 degrees latitude, in the high desert. But none of them have been able to produce seed for me since returning to the USA. This is the first year, since we returned, in 2001, that one of my lima varieties refused to germinate. So they are going... going....

Such tropical beans will probably only succeed where the last frost is at the end of November, and in the warmer gulf region of our country. They won't bloom until late in the season. But when they do, they produce quite a bit.

Well, enough for now! Belinda, yes, I'll take that sample of 30 seeds. I'm going to freeze it for the future.

Tahlequah, OK

PS. I have in my notes that the folks in Ahuehueyo used these beans both as green shell beans, cooked into tamales, and as dry beans.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 12:26PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

It would be a shame for this bean to be lost. I hope Belinda, George and others will be able to maintain it. It needs to be shared widely as possible. Wish I could help, but I'm too far North.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 1:50PM
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check with "Native Seeds Search " of Tucson AZ . They as well as "seed savers exchange " preserve seeds as well as the government seed bank could possible use them and preserve them .

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 3:53PM
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Would it be possible to obtain enough of these seeds to plant a hill in NC. I typically have pretty good luck growing beans in this area.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 9:42PM
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drop me an e-mail through my member's page. I have old seed which I can test and one sample of seed Belinda sent me.


    Bookmark   December 25, 2007 at 7:17AM
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Just now getting back to my garden. We went to Israel the first 2 weeks of November and came home sick and than we had the holidays. Trip of a lifetime. Once home I picked beans and peas from my dried out garden. The one plant that survived and produced, really produced. I obtained close to a quart of dried beans from the one plant. It did take close to 5 months of growth to start producing. I'm going to give them a taste test today and report back. I would be glad to send seeds of 15 seeds each to a couple more people. George didn't have good luck in OK so I would recommend anyone be south of his zone.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 11:24AM
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This are a nice tasting lima. They smell like the black bean found at most grocery stores but have a rich smokey lima taste. A keeper and one I'll grow just for eating. They took longer to cook than a regular pinto.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 8:04PM
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Belinda, thanks for doing this! Glad to hear that you're feeling better.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 6:54AM
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George, thank you. I'm always looking for ways to get my husband to eat veg and he is still talking about these beans this afternoon. A good tasting lima is a welcome addition to our diets.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 5:46PM
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Wow! so interesting,I was captivated.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 4:44PM
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Did anyone ever get some black limas started in the south othe than belindach? I noticed that she doesn't have an email link on her information. I'd really like to try them in the Phoenix area.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 2:54PM
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holtzclaw(z7 GA)

I learned something today. I spent a summer in Tamazunchale and had always thought that the Juasteca was just the name of that region. No one ever told me it was a tribe. Many people spoke Nahuatl, so I thought that was the tribe.

Hope the recent tornado didn't set you back. I lost most of the seed from you in a house fire.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 4:09PM
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tracydr. Check the black jungle butterbean thread dated May 23 if you or anyone else want seed for either bean. My email address is posted there. At the end of the thread is a picture of my arch trelles with six black Mexican lima plants that are only three months old. They were planted last July so you still have plenty of time to make a good crop.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 6:12PM
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I just wanted to reassure everyone that this seed will NOT be lost. Some were sent to Sandhill Preservation seed company and they are excited about growing it out as an offering to sell to others as soon as they can.I do not know if it is in their catalog this year or not,but I feel sure that it will be available very soon. This seed was given to me by Mr. Harry Dodge who lives in Arazona. These seeds have an extremely close history to the seed you speak of here. It came from Mexico via the Aztecs.I have a few that I can trade if anyone wants this seed.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 1:25PM
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I have grown up growing butter beans.
Never heard of BJBB or Mexican Black Lima, until I got on Gardenweb.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 8:45PM
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Planting my black butter beans this week end.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 7:21PM
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