Speckled Brown Butterbean (Bush)

Phaseolus lunatus

Grown by: Sankofa Farm at Bartram's Garden in Philadelphia, PA

  • $4.00


The Speckled Brown Butterbean is a plump and creamy bean, with a mild earthy flavor that satisfies the soul on cold winter evenings or on any bright summer day. The beautiful tan bean, when mature, sports mocha colored streaks and freckles that melt into a smooth light brown bean when cooked. Speckled Brown Butterbeans are a traditional delicacy in much of the American South and nowhere more so than in Mississippi. In Mississippi these beans are generally cooked fresh shelled or fresh frozen usually with hamhock or other pork, butter, a chopped onion, garlic and salted when finished. For dried beans, pre-soak in cold water at least 4 hours. In our house, we substitute butter, olive or palm oil, and sweet smoked paprika for a delightful meal. Serve with cornbread or rice.

Our Speckled Brown Butterbeans are bush beans, hardy to zone 7 and mature in 65-70 days. Plants set pods when day temperatures are reliably 85 degrees or more. Pole varieties take longer, between 80 to 100 days, depending on consistent hot days. The pods, grass green and thick, are similar in appearance to most Lima beans though they are smaller containing between three to four seeds that ripen from pale green to speckled brown.

This species is originally from South America, hence the name “Lima.” In much of the South, these beans are referred to generally as Butterbeans. Each cultural region of the South boasts it’s own favorite though in Mississippi the Speckled Brown reigns over all legumes. This variety, of unknown origins, has been grown and eaten in Mississippi since before God remembers. We received the seed stock earlier this year from Duck and Earl of Shaw, MS. Duck is the sister of Sankofa Farm friend and community elder Ms. Pearl Trotter.

Days to Maturity: 65-70

Seeds per pack: 32

Planting / harvesting notes

Plant in warm soil at least a couple weeks after the last danger of frost has passed. Sow directly in the ground at a depth of one inch, spaced every few inches in rows 12 inches apart. Thin to one plant every four to six inches.

Seed keeping notes

Lima beans are self-pollinating, though it is best to isolate different varieties of P. lunatus by at least 150 feet to avoid unwanted cross-pollination from flying insects. For seed saving, harvest the beans when their shells have become dried and crispy on the plants. Lay out the pods in a dry, sunny place to dry down further. Shell the beans and lay out the seeds in a well ventilated place away from direct sunlight for at least another few days to a week before storing for next year.

Additional search terms: Brown Speckled Butter Beans, Brown Speckled Butterbeans.

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