Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Vigna caracalla (L.) Verdc.

Frost-tender, fast growing, evergreen, twining perennial climber with 3-palmate leaves and erect axillary racemes, to 30cm, of coiled, snail-like, pink, white or yellow flowers in summer to winter, followed by green bean-shaped fruit.  In parts of Europe and Africa the beans are eaten as a substitute for the kidney bean.  To 8m  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘Native of India.  Cultivated in the garden at Hampton Court, as long ago as 1690.  We are obliged to Mr. Herbert for the sample for our drawing. It was part of a plant which flowered last autumn in the hothouse at Spofforth.  We believe the species is not now often found in our collections.  Miller tells us that it is much cultivated in Portugal on account of the fragrance and beauty of the flowers.  [BR f.341/1819]. 

‘Having been one of the first exotics cultivated in this country, it has lost much of its attraction in recent times.’  [Gard. Chron. 1844].  MB p.267/1843.  ABR pl.391/1804.

History at Camden Park

Listed only in the 1857 catalogue [T.744/1857].


Published Dec 24, 2009 - 02:28 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2010 - 02:36 PM

Figured are 3-palmate leaves and axillary raceme of coiled, snail-like, pink and purple flowers. Botanical Register f.341, 1819.

Vigna caracalla (L.) Verdc. | BR f.341/1819 | BHL

Family Fabaceae
Region of origin

Tropical South America


Phaseolus caracalla L. 

Common Name

Corkscrew flower, Snail bean, Snail flower

Name in the Camden Park Record

Phaseolus Caracalla

Confidence level high