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  • Andean Fabas

    Today, joyously, the broad beans I ordered from Siskiyou Seeds arrived. Two named varieties, and a colourful pot luck from the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Andes.

    The yellow variety, named 'Elio' by its guardian family, is synonymous with 'Aztec Gold'. Strangely named as the Andes were never part of the Aztec Empire.

    The brown and cream speckled 'Surcan' is from the same region as ‘Elio’. There's quite a bit of diversity in the pack, some with an almost completely brown testa and wildly different sizes.

    Thirdly, 'Andean Mix', described as an interbreeding mixture with 'green, gold, brown, speckled, thumbprint, and red-spot patterns and colors'. I bought two packets of this mix in the hope to improve my chances of getting the thumbprint and red-spot patterns. No such luck.

    The mix I received is mostly beans of yellow, brown and maroon colouration. Nevertheless, there are some interesting forms. An individual green faba that is particularly chunky. At 13mm thick, I have never seen a dry broad bean so voluptuous. Then there are a few small dark tic-bean types, a yellow with buff hilum, a small green with blue-black speckling, and a 29mm long by 20mm wide leviathan.

    I'll definitely be attempting some selection with these. 'Elio' is quite mixed up. Unsurprisingly, I’d like to select for the vibrant sulphur yellow and eliminate the buff-green testa phenotype. Earliness, heat tolerance and disease resistance will be something to watch closely. Biomass production also.

    I plan on growing some of the seed in isolation, and letting the rest mix with a collection of European broad beans I will be growing this year. Longpods, Windsors, dwarf plants, rainbow flowers, rainbow seeds, ancient varieties, new varieties, the lot. As much variability as possible.


  • #2
    This sounds like a great project you have planned. Those speckled favas look lovely, very pretty seeds.

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    • #3
      How very interesting. I didn’t at all realise that there is such a flourishing population of Andean fava beans, let alone that they’re so diverse in colour, size and shape.

      I tried to find out a little more about their origins and found it rather confused. The Cambridge World History of Food outlines a debate as to whether its origin was in the Middle East, in particular in Afghanistan, but seems to back the idea that it was first domesticated in the Mediterranean basin which I think is the usual view. It then deals with its introduction into China and North America, not giving South America a mention. Another source says Fava bean originates in North Africa. Most say it was introduced into South America at the same time as North America, ie. post Columbus, which I guess seems most likely. Either way, it seems a very rich and varied population developed and will be exciting to work with.

      So what a great idea. Looking forward to hearing how it goes.

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      • #4
        Yes I believe you're correct - they're an Old World crop introduced to South America by the Spanish.

        From an ethnobotanical perspective it is quite marvelous to see the diversity and vibrancy in appearance of the Andean cultivars, and how (I assume) different priorities in selection criteria have resulted in these patterns and colour, almost resembling the beautiful clothing of the region.

        From a horticultural perspective, one wonders what genetic diversity may be 'unlocked' in European cultivars with a shift in selection criteria, or whether this wealth has been completely lost over the centuries. Crimson Flowered may be a lone vista into the past.

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        • Galina
          Galina commented
          Editing a comment
          And perhaps the red seeded Karmazyn might be old world. Although I cannot remember when this one started turning up in seed catalogues in UK. I have never seen it in my early gardening years.
          https://www.dobies.co.uk/Garden/Vege...zyn_430839.htm

          Black seeded Russian and Syrian Broad beans would hint at other colours in existence in the old world, just that (similarly to white flowered shelling peas in UK) one type was favoured or rather two. There have always been horse beans or field beans the smaller seeded agricultural broad bean in UK for more variety, but these were not available to gardeners.

          Just like with tomatoes and peas, it is high time to reclaim all the colours and forms of the broad bean too. Good luck. And hope these will do well for you.

          I remember seeing black flowered broad beans which looked amazing, Jayb did you have these at some time? .
          Last edited by Galina; 24-01-2020, 07:14.

        • triffid
          triffid commented
          Editing a comment
          Karmazyn is beautiful. I've read that it's Eastern European, if memory serves me correctly it hails from Poland.
          It's true there are other Old World beans with coloured testas, but in my limited research I haven't discovered any that are bicoloured or patterned.
          The black-flowered ones are wonderful. I had a couple of very dark purple ones in the Crimson Flowered batch last year.
          Thanks, I hope they do well too, fingers crossed

        • jayb
          jayb commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, I had a right ol mix going, the flower colour range was just gorgeous. The idea was two-fold flower colour and seed colour and patterns. I sent some seed to Ruud, I'm not sure if he is continuing with them. To start my mix, I just got together as many varieties as I could get hold of added in my already mix and grew them all together. I must see if they are not too old to germinate and get them going again. Though I have some varieties I was hoping to grow out for seed this year so we shall have to see. I think Silverleaf was working on a mix it up selection too, I'm not sure how far along she got.

      • #5
        What a treasure trove of genetic material. Looking forward to photos.

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        • #6


          Yes, our Europeans range seems very limited by comparison, bred according to market forces for uniformity perhaps? I’m thinking -tentatively - that you will be introducing characteristics which are less well adapted to conditions here so might be more difficult to grow in the short term but at the same time presumably in time gaining robustness by widening the genetic base.

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          • triffid
            triffid commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes I believe so. Fortunately it doesn't seem that they have developed any daylength sensitivity, having been grown in Oregon for a few generations.

        • #7
          This old thread might be of interest. https://www.growingfoodsavingseeds.c...-flower-colour

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          • #8
            I'd almost forgotten how beautiful these are

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            • #9
              I've found a source for one black-flowered variety 'A Fleur Noire'. Any experiences growing these? Are they worth buying?

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              • jayb
                jayb commented
                Editing a comment
                I wonder if Ruud is still growing these.

              • triffid
                triffid commented
                Editing a comment
                Yes it's for sale here https://detuinenvanweldadigheid.nl/t...-a-fleur-noir/
                Seeds look very much like those of Crimson Flowered.

              • Jang
                Jang commented
                Editing a comment
                À fleur noir’ sounds wonderful. Do share progress. It would be great to hear whether it lives up to its promise.

            • #10
              I haven't grown the variety 'A Fleur Noire'.
              But have found similar to Crimson flowered, the brown and black flowered types are just gorgeous in flower.
              I've a Brown/Black flowered variety to try this year, but as yet no feedback on taste.

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              • #11
                Hi jayb,i still grow your mix and also addit some new varieties to it.This year i will grow the new mix.Fleur noire is still growing on my allotment,one of the nicest flowers.

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                • #12
                  Hey Ruud, good to see you. Glad to know you are still growing and adding to that mix, it must have some diversity now with everything you have been growing. Great to hear you are still growing on your allotment

                  Fleur Noire sound and look delightful, I hope the ones I'm growing are the same. Happy growing for 2020!

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