Painted Jewels: The Bean collection of John Withee

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'Bennett’s Giant Soldier'

This variety may be an example of ‘Giant Soldier’ offered by the Billy Hepler Seed Company in 1948 and acquired by John Withee in the early 1970s. Read More Here

'Jacob’s Cattle'

John Withee’s search for a proper baking bean uncovered this Maine favorite. Read More Here

'Big Brown'

This Depression Era bean has been enjoyed by the Appleby family for over 80 years. Read More Here

'Stub’s Mammoth Scipios'

A family garden and a family bean, this variety can be traced back to as early as the 1940s. Read More Here

Did you know?

Common beans were domesticated twice.

Did you know?

Common beans were independently domesticated in two different places: the Andes Mountains of South America over 8,000 years ago and the Larma-Santiago basin of Mexico at least 5,500 years ago.


Developed by the USDA in the 1950s, it was once a popular commercial variety. Read More Here

'Bert Deane’s Baking Bean'

Commercial fame wasn’t in the cards for this homegrown variety, though it has been grown in Maine since the 1950s. Read More Here


Named for its place of origin, John Withee selected this variety from a plant found in his bean garden. Read More Here

'Jacob’s Cattle Gasless'

Although untested, this variety’s claim to fame stems from its supposedly gasless nature. Read More Here

Did you know?

The colors and patterns on bean seeds are genetically regulated by a small army of genes.

Did you know?

The physical appearance of bean seeds is controlled by an array of genes including 9 for color, 6 that control seed coat patterns, and 1 that influences whether the seed is shiny or matte. Additionally, the environment plays a role with wetter and more humid conditions leading to darker colored seeds.

'Dwarf Kentucky Wonder'

An award winning bean that dates back to the 1930s. Read More Here

'Kentucky Wonder, White Seeded'

For at least 20 years, this was Lyman Fitzgerald’s most popular snap bean at the Albuquerque farmer's market. Read More Here

'Scarlet Beauty'

Retaining its attractive red color after cooking was a selling point for this shell bean. Read More Here


Expert, impartial judges decided this variety was a winner in 1943. Read More Here

'African Premier'

From Africa to Connecticut and beyond, this bean was a world traveler. Read More Here

'Uncle Clarence Holliday'

A variety so good it was grown for over 50 years by a Missouri gardener. Read More Here

Did you know?

Darwin found evidence for his theory of “the survival of the fittest” among the beans in his garden.

Did you know?

Darwin wrote in The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication (1896) of a cold snap that left only a few bean plants standing. "It was impossible to behold these three plants, with their blackened, withered, and dead brethren all around, and not see at a glance that they differed widely in their constitutional power of resisting frost."


Commercially introduced in 1947 by the world's youngest seedsman and a staple in the Billy Hepler Seed Company catalog. Read More Here

'Hidatsa Red Field'

This variety was a pre-1920 offering of the Oscar H Will Seed Company in Bismarck, North Dakota. Read More Here

'Connecticut Wonder'

This variety was a gift from the bees nearly 100 years ago. Read More Here


This variety was a family heirloom from Georgia made popular commercially by the Hastings’ Seed Company in 1912. Read More Here

'Verna’s Bush'

With help from friends and family, this variety has been grown and shared in Wisconsin for over 70 years. Read More Here

'Mostoller Wild Goose'

From the crop of a goose to a garden in Pennsylvania, this bean has a long history of sharing in the Mostoller family. Read More Here

Did you know?

There are many different species of “beans” that we eat.

Did you know?

The common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris, is only one member of the legume family (Fabaceae) that we eat. Other edible legumes include lima beans, black eyed peas (a.k.a. cowpeas), runner beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peanuts.