Vigna Caracalla & Phaseolus Caracalla

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

I've been asked a number of times how you tell the two vines apart if they aren't flowering. This year I grew both together .. The Phaseolus caracalla has small dark green leaves and the Caracalla has large lime green leaves. You can see very clearly the difference in the picture.

Thumbnail by Xeramtheum
Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

Thanks for the picture - now, could you take pictures of each vine's blooms, label them and post them? Thank you so much!

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Here ya go.

Thumbnail by Xeramtheum
Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

This is wonderful - THANK YOU - is there a way to archive this so we don't lose it?

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

Melody (Admin) has added this thread as a sticky at the top of the page so we won't lose it - THANKS, Melody!

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

Glad you posted this. I just got an email this morning regarding a PF comment I made on the Phaseolus being moved & it appears as if they have combined the Phaseolus & the Vigna into one PF entry. Kind of depressing, all the effort those of us earlier growers went to, to get the confusion between the 2 names clarified & separated :(

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

There is a lot of confusion between the two plants because they are considered the same species. Here is a more detailed description of the Snail Vine and Corkscrew Vine:

The physical characteristics of the Snail Vine and Corkscrew Vine flowers are clearly and distinctly different. The Snail Vine only has 1 turn and the Corkscrew Vine has 2 or more. The Snail Vine flower color is consistently the same throughout the life of the flower. The Corkscrew Vine flower color changes as the flower ages. The seeds are different as well. Snail Vine seeds are about half the size of Corkscrew Vine. The shape of the buds are different. Snail Vine again has only 1 turn and are green with 2 buds on one stem whereas Corkscrew Vine has 2 turns, is white and has clustered buds on one stem with very distinct extra floral nectaries at the junction on the stem (see next post). The leaves are different as well, Snail Vine are dark green. Caracalla are lime green and twice the size.

Thumbnail by Xeramtheum
Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

While both Corkscrew and Snail Vines have extra floral nectaries (EFN), the Corkscrew Vine has multiple and very distinct ones on a bud cluster unlike the Snail Vine.

EFN's can be found on many plants. Some are more hard to find than others. They are structures that produce nectar, thus attracting insects that can aid in defense of the plant.

It is thought that ant's aid in the pollination of Corkscrew Vine. In the picture you can see the ants on a bud cluster of the Corkscrew Vine. The inset is a closeup of an EFN.

Thumbnail by Xeramtheum
Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

I am really happy that the difference has been explained and referenced with pictures AND that Melody made it into a sticky - great reference material!

Pinellas Park, FL(Zone 9b)

I asked to have my comments and photos removed that were moved from phaseolus caracalla because I don't want to be linked to this move. I have also been in touch with someone from John Wiersema with ARS and this is his last response to my request for clarification Seems even the plant world experts are confused on this issue.

"Taxonomists, at least traditionally (before the discipline became largely
focused on molecular phylogenetics), normally specialize on a particular plant
group, such as a family or genus. The rest of us taxonomists rely on the
published findings of these specialists for the taxonomy of their groups. In the
case of Vigna caracalla, it was Bernard Verdcourt of the Royal Botanic Gardens,
Kew who first transferred (in 1970) this species from Phaseolus to that genus.
Some of the more recent molecular DNA evidence suggests that this species may
not belong in either genus, but perhaps should be placed in a genus whose
boundaries have yet to be determined.

In any case, I searched some taxonomist databases looking for specialists on
Vigna and found the following:

Name Nigel Maxted
Herbarium Code BIRM
Address Herbarium
School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
P.O. Box 363, Edgbaston
Birmingham B15 2TT, England U.K.
Research Vicia and Vigna, Leguminosae

Name Raymundo Ramírez Delgadillo (b. 1963)
Herbarium Code IBUG
Address Herbario
Instituto de Botánica
Universidad de Guadalajara
Apartado Postal 1-139
45110 Zapopan, Jalisco
Contact Email: [email protected]
Research Vigna; Fabaceae

Name: Susana Inés Drewes, Dra.
Institute/department: Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología Experimental,
Street: Pab.II 4to Piso. Ciudad Universitaria
Postal code: 1428EHA
City: Ciudad de Buenos Aires
Country: Argentina
Telephone: 54-011-4576-3372
Fax: 54-11-4576-3384
E-mail: [email protected] / [email protected]
Taxonomic specialization: Fabaceae, Macroptilium, Vigna, Phaseolus, Dolichopsis,
Clitoria, Cologamia, Centrosema, Porotos
Geographical area: America

Name: Shirley Espert, Lic.
Institute/department: University of Buenos Aires
Street: Int. Cantilo y Costanera
Postal code: 1428EHA
City: Buenos Aires
Country: Argentina
Telephone: 54-011-4576-3372
Fax: 54-11-4576-3384
E-mail: [email protected]
Taxonomic specialization: Rosales, Leguminosae, Phaseolus, Macroptilium, Vigna,
Prosopis Beans

Of course, some of these individuals may have only a regional focus on the
genus. Also, taxonomists often focus on the wild-occuring species, paying less
attention to artificially produced forms that might appear in cultivation, some
of which are the result of complex hybridization involving a number of wild
species. However, perhaps one or more of these individuals could provide their
expert opinion on the plants in question.


John Wiersema

John H. Wiersema, Ph.D.
Curator of GRIN Taxonomy (
United States Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service
National Germplasm Resources Laboratory
Bldg. 003, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC-West)
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 U.S.A.
Tel: 1-301-504-9181 Fax: 1-301-504-5536 Email: [email protected] "


Grayslake, IL(Zone 5a)

This is an old thread, but I thought perhaps someone would also have pictures of the tubers of the Corkscrew Vine? What I grew from seed this summer was definitely Corkscrew Vine, very vigorous, and I just dug it up today since it will go down to 20F for the first time tonight. What I found were thickened root type tubers, like Dahlias. I thought I'd seen a picture somewhere that they are more like potatoes.

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

Here is a picture I posted to in 2006, hope this helps you. :)

Keaau, HI

As the two plants are considered the same species, the wild plant should be considered the type species, and the other plant established as a subspecies, variety, or cultivar.

It seems to me that Xeramtheum has shown they are different enough to be subspecies, but I am no expert.

As the PlantFiles is charged with following GRIN and Kew, GRIN and / or Kew needs to show the difference (I don't think they deal with cultivars; they do describe subspecies and natural varieties.).

Punta Gorda, FL(Zone 9b)

I would love any tips you have on getting the vigna caracalla to bloom! Any thoughts??
Phaseous is blooming well, but for the life of me I can't get a bud to set on the vigna.
Please help! They are both about 8 months old, well over 15 to 20 feet in length, and the
phaseous is covered. Nothing on vigna. What am I doing wrong????

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

I doubt you are doing anything wrong - The Snail Vine always blooms first and early. Corkscrews normal bloom time for me is around the middle of August. I have mine in full sun and feed it every two weeks. Grown from seed this year, it started putting on bud stalks about a month ago .. but the bud stalks really don't look like buds at the early stages .. they can be mistaken for newly emerging leaves

This message was edited Jul 25, 2011 8:18 AM

Thumbnail by Xeramtheum
Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

The stalk will start to elongate and what shows up first are the EFN's.

Thumbnail by Xeramtheum
Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Then the actual flower buds will start to appear.

Thumbnail by Xeramtheum
Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

And the buds will start maturing into the recognizable.

Thumbnail by Xeramtheum
Punta Gorda, FL(Zone 9b)

Thank you Xeramtheum for the information and the beautiful photos. I thought I'd lost
my touch. This is my first time growing this species, so I felt the experts were most
likely the ones to help, and I was right.

San Bernardino, CA(Zone 9a)

I have come to one conclussion on this subject...It makes my head hurt. If the experts can't agree and can't seem to put out consistant info, how are we suppossed to put it all together. They are both beautiful and seem to bring injoyment to many. In all honesty, what I read here is more often that not more helpfull than anything else I've read.

Keaau, HI

Vigna caracalla is the accepted species.

Varieties or hybrids of the plant may look different, just as in other species and their hybrids and varieties.

Carlisle, PA(Zone 6b)

One quick question, how do you get two pictures together into one such as Xeranthemum did above? Also, I was "digging" and I found a packet with 3 vigna seeds in it. Didn't know how long I had it but I nicked them & soaked them overnight. So far two have gotten roots on them & I potted them up. The 3rd hasn't yet but 66% germination is making me happy, since I had them a year or two.

Dahlonega, GA

If you get anything out of that plant ,save me a coupla seeds .Buttoneer.We can figure out what I have to trade .

Carlisle, PA(Zone 6b)

Hi Digger, unfortunately I lost the plants due to underwatering & the extreme heat we had here in July. You could always post for them in another forum because there are lots of DG members who have them. Maybe we could swap for something else to make up for it. Judy

Keaau, HI

Here are members who may have the seeds for trade, etc.

Dahlonega, GA

Thanks , this is the first time I've looked at trade lists . It's an all day job to get through it . Ought to keep me busy .

Keaau, HI

You go Digger!

That's how many heirloom varieties stick around.

Many interesting varieties are only found in gardens. If they don't find a home, they'll be gone.

Dahlonega, GA

Yep , newer doesn't translate "better "

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Here's a bump.

I grew about 10 of these from seed last year, gave a bunch away, and now have 3 in my house waiting for me to do something.

They have all been growing like crazy despite having died back for the most part when I brought them in. I did not let them go dormant.

One has a sizeable knot at the base like a tree trunk. This is the plant I grew on my arbor. It got to the top of the arbor and produced one clump of flowers probably in September and then just stopped growing.

The other two seedlings never got out of their 4" pots. I had read on another thread - perhaps in the tropicals forum - that some keep them in 20" pots. Looking at the size of the "trunk" of the single plant I could maybe see why.

I'm just debating whether to put it back on that arbor. It's just an arched arbor a friend gave me last year. I will get full sun for part of the day but not all day. I have other faster growing longer blooming things I could put there there that I think would be more satisfying (Spanish Flag seedlings. Then what to do with the Vigna?!

I have a chain link fence with plenty of room to spread. I'd like to keep them in containers so I can bring them in again over winter. I suppose I should transplant the 2 smaller plants up so they have room to grow. A chain link fence seems so far beneath this plant, but it's probably the best space with the most sun that I have to offer it. It's not the spreading invasive vine that I've read about. Probably keeping it in pots would prevent that anyway.

It does want full sun, yes? Just trying to do right so I can experience the best this plant has to offer.

Thanks for any ideas.


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