I’m a bit late trying Phaseolus polystachios, Thicket Bean or Wild Kidney Bean, a North American climbing perennial bean that has been discussed in permaculture breeding circles over the last few years, notably on the following old Homegrown Goodness forum threads
http://alanbishop.proboards.com/thread/4485 (sidetracking into Hablitzia and skirret)
Jonathan Bates, who is part of the Hablitzia story in my book, of Food Forest Farm, and one of the two “geeks” in Paradise Lot with Eric Toensmeier kindly sent me seed in exchange for Aster scaber and Ligularia fischeri! Jonathan and Eric Toensmeier’s plants are now about 6 years old and they have been advocating a breeding project for some time….as have pioneers Nicolas Moreau, Rob Wagner, Telsing Andrews, Alison Tindale and Chris Homanics! It would be great to have a perennial bean (although a breeding project on Siberian Pea Vine might be a better option for my area). It has also been suggested that crossing with runner bean (P. coccineus) might be possible. Although runner bean is perennial, it’s not easy to overwinter in colder climates (has anyone succeeded?).
The seeds are so far rather small. Eric describes the plant as “liking partial shade and a big shrub or trellis to climb on – it can grow to 9-12′ high by year 2 or 3”. There’s also a thread discussing this on the Plant Breeding for Permaculture forum.
Eric: do you know the provenance of your plants? It grows in the wild from Florida as far north as Michigan (Great Lakes) I believe.