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Publication #HS556

Bean, Scarlet Runner—Phaseolus coccineus L.1

James M. Stephens2

Other names for the scarlet runner bean are scarlet conqueror, fire bean, mammoth, red giant, scarlet emperor, and white Dutch runner.

Figure 1. 

Scarlet runner bean


James M. Stephens

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

This bean belongs to a group of flowering beans that are of comparatively little importance in the United States. Like others in the runner group, scarlet runner is planted mostly as an ornamental because of its rapid growth and abundance of large, brightly colored flowers. The scarlet runner in Florida has been reported to climb up ground-based television antennas, as well as other structures such as fences. Fair production has been observed in Florida gardens.


The large vigorously climbing plant reaches 12 to 15 feet. Its leaves are dark green, with an underside of veins tinged with purple. Bean-like flowers are scarlet and very large (1 inch wide). There are about 20 flowers on each flower stalk. Dark green pods possess fair quality, but are somewhat brittle and stringy, with firm, coarse flesh. Their size ranges from medium long to very long. Mature pods are broad and stout. Very large lima bean shaped seeds have a scar that is large, white, flattened, and somewhat incurved. Seed color varies from shining black to violet-black mottled with deep red (oxblood to carmine).

Another variety similar to scarlet runner is butterfly. It has white and orange bicolored flowers. Seeds are grayish olive, mottled with salmon. A russet brown eye ring surrounds the seed scar.


Both the pods and the green shelled beans are edible in the fresh stage and are sometimes substituted for lima beans. The root is often eaten by Central America Indians. The long vine makes an attractive, colorful trellis plant in an edible landscape.



This document is HS556, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date April 1994. Revised August 2015. Reviewed October 2018. Visit the EDIS website at


James M. Stephens, professor emeritus, Horticultural Sciences Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.