Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Pole Bean, Snap Bean (String, Green or French Bean)
Phaseolus vulgaris 'Caseknife'

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Phaseolus (FAZ-ee-oh-lus) (Info)
Species: vulgaris (vul-GAIR-iss) (Info)
Cultivar: Caseknife

» View all varieties of Beans


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

Seed Type:
Open Pollinated

Growth Habit:

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Days to Maturity:
51 to 60 days

Bloom Color:
Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Click thumbnail
to view:

By mtilton
Thumbnail #1 of Phaseolus vulgaris by mtilton


2 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive straea On May 20, 2009, straea from Somerville, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

My garden is hotter and much windier than the average garden here in Eastern Massachusetts, and this is hands-down absolutely positively my top producer in the garden bean category. It starts producing early, and yet it even makes it through some light frosts to keep producing snap beans (though the shell bean sized pods tend to be damaged by frost) till a heavier frost finally kills it. The vines grow so long for me that they loop around to new stakes and keep climbing. I can't recommend this snap/shell bean highly enough!

Editing the same day I posted because I read the comment about the bean's history, which I believe was taken verbatim (and uncredited, unfortunately) from Monticello's historic plant catalog. That's where I first got my seeds (I highly recommend their seeds) and since my success, I've done some reading on the bean's history. Most histories I've read indicate that "Caseknife" is actually older than that description says, likely dating at least to the 1700s, possibly older. According to what I've read, it has been known by several other names, including "Dutch kidney bean" and "Clapboard bean." It apparently spread from Continental Europe to the UK and then on to the US. Growing this bean is like growing a living piece of history!

Neutral mtilton On Jun 24, 2008, mtilton from Ada, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

The Caseknife Pole Bean is one of the oldest documented bean varieties in American gardens, dating to the 1820s. In 1863, Fearing Burr, in "The Field and Garden Vegetables of American", said Caseknife was "common to almost every garden." The name refers to its wide flattened, slightly curving mature pod--similar to a dinner knife or knife sheath.

This vigorous climber reaches six to eight feet, and the white flowers yield eight-to-nine-inch, fibrous pods full of plump shelling beans. Plant after the last frost in well prepared, sunny garden soil with a trellis or bean poles for support.

Positive tomato_lady On Mar 29, 2003, tomato_lady from Crossville, TN (Zone 6a) wrote:

Here in middle Tennessee this is THE BEAN to grow. According to most folks, they save just enough seed to replant their garden in the spring - and the rest get eaten because they are go good. You cannot buy the seeds anywhere but find someone to give them to you. I was fortunate to be gifted with some seeds this year and look forward to a bountiful harvest from strong vigorous vines.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Somerville, Massachusetts
Crossville, Tennessee

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