Sunday, November 2, 2014

Crimson Flowered Broad Beans or Favas

A special, old variety of fava, er, broad beans
Normally I call these fava beans, but with respect for this lovely bean's origins, I'm including broad bean in the title of this post. What we call fava beans in the USA are called broad beans in the UK. I was stopped in my tracks when I first saw them flowering at Seed Savers Exchange's (SSE) Heritage Farm in Decorah Iowa last summer. 

Crimson-flowered Fava Bean growing in SSE's diversity garden
Fava beans are one of my must-grow crops every fall to spring season. In the San Francisco Bay Area they're the perfect thing to grow over our mild winters. They can take our frosts, and if I plant them in the fall I can count on eating fresh fava beans in the spring around April. But I had never seen this gorgeous red variety.

The common fava flowers are white with black splotches  
Far from being a novel and modern cultivar, the crimson flowered fava was apparently saved from extinction by the Heritage Seed Library after receiving a donation of only four seeds from a gardener in Kent in 1978. 

I got my seeds from fellow SSE member Christina Wengar, who is the sole seed steward for this variety in SSE's member's yearbook, where members go to discover which seeds are available to request from other members. 

When I searched for other seed sources I found some in the UK and Australia, and those sources referred to the crimson flowered fava as being very rare.

My fava spring salad

I can't wait to try out the crimson favas in my favorite fava dishes. And yes, you can bet I'll be saving those seeds!

Photos: Patricia Larenas, Urban Artichoke

5 comments:

  1. I have been trying to find some Crimson flowered beans with no luck. I would love to know if you have some and would be willing to send them to me. I can pay you or will send a collection of seeds I have been saving. Thank you! Foragreenerliving AT gmail DOT com

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  2. Hi Laura- I'll check my saved seeds and send you an email. Please see that I posted my source for the crimson flowered fava above in this article (an SSE member).
    thanks for your comment,
    Patricia

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  3. Thank you for your quick response. The person you got the beans from moved so she hasn't planted the few she saved and is unable to share any. Let me know if you have any to spare, thank you! Love your blog and your business!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Laura,
      I've sent you a personal email- good news: I do have a few of the original seeds I can share!
      Patricia

      Delete
    2. Hi Laura,
      I've sent you a personal email- good news: I do have a few of the original seeds I can share!
      Patricia

      Delete