Strophostyles helvola (Wild Bean)

Plant Info
Also known as: Trailing Fuzzybean, Trailing Wild Bean, Amberique-bean
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:part shade, sun; sandy soil, open fields, meadows, open woods
Bloom season:July - October
Plant height:2 to 8 foot vine
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] Flowers are produced at the tip of a long stalk from the leaf axils. Each stalk can produce up to 10 flowers though only 1 or 2 are in bloom at any given time; both developing buds and mature pods can be present at the same time. Flowers are ½ inch across, the upper petal (standard) broadly flaring, generally clear pink turning brownish green with age. The lateral wings below it are also pink, and the lower keel has a dark purplish spur-like projection that curls back up at the tip and looks all the world like a raised elephant's trunk.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of 3 on slender stems. Leaflets are 1 to 2 inches long, broadly oval to egg-shaped, rounded at the base, tapering to a pointed tip, toothless, hairless or sparsely hairy. The end leaflet is stalked, laterals are stalkless, asymetrical at the base and sometimes have shallow lobes. Stems are slender, rough textured with a few sparse hairs, twining around other plants or trailing along the ground.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a slender round pod, 2 to 3 inches long, smooth with a few appressed hairs.


Strophostyles helvola sometimes also goes by Strophostyles helvula. Neither Wild Bean nor the closely Trailing Pea, (Strophostyles leiosperma) are frequently encountered in general and when you are in their habitat populations can be somewhat sparse. While I've collected seed on several occasions I've managed to lose them before having an opportunity to plant them. While not an overly showy species it would be interesting to see how it performs under cultivation and what insects might show up to utilize it.

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More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken just south of St. Francis near the Rum River in NW Anoka county.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Stephanie - Oakdale
on: 2011-09-06 14:34:16

Found this plant on a walk yesterday - many seed pods ripe and more coming. I collected some seed and plan to plant it near the swamp in my front yard. Maybe a half dozen vine growing on a fence.

Posted by: Jacqueline - Isanti Coounty--Athens township
on: 2014-08-27 09:23:00

I have a small patch ( maybe 10'x20' ) of wild bean growing on a dry sandy hill on my land. Beautiful plant.

Posted by: Nancy B - Weaver Dunes, Wabasha County
on: 2017-08-30 12:31:02

Scattered throughout the dry prairie, in bloom and fruit - a beautiful plant!

Posted by: Owen Schlehuber - Lake Pepin
on: 2020-09-06 12:31:40

I found quite a few of these growing along a sand shore on lake Pepin. I harvested one pod but none of the other were ones were ripe.

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