Strophostyles helvola (Wild Bean)
|Also known as:||Trailing Fuzzybean, Trailing Wild Bean, Amberique-bean|
|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):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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:
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.
Notes: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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Photos courtesy 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?