Ask Our Experts

Answers to your questions about gardening, energy, homesteading and other sustainable living topics.

Add to My MSN

Where Can I Find Papago Beans?

7/30/2008 12:00:00 AM

Tags: beans, Native American

My mother has been trying to find ‘Papago’ beans ever since she bought some in Ajo, Ariz., several years ago. They are a small, white, dried bean that cooks quickly. I cannot find them listed in any seed catalogs. I sure would appreciate your help in finding these elusive little critters.  

The bean you are seeking is probably the white tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius), which has been grown by Native American tribes of southern Arizona and northern Mexico for thousands of years. The tribal name Papago (“bean people”) was used for many years, but in the 1980s, the tribe’s actual name, Tohono O’odham (“desert people”), became popular instead. The 24,000 people of the Tohono O’odham Nation grow several types of dry-climate beans, but if the bean you seek is small and flattened, it is probably a tepary bean. 

Tepary beans thrive in hot, dry conditions, and they have a remarkably high protein content that ranges between 23 percent and 30 percent. Most of the cultivated varieties grow into lanky bushes and produce dry beans in 80 to 100 days. Seeds of both white and brown Tohono O’odham tepary beans are available from Native Seeds Search.  

— Barbara Pleasant, contributing editor 

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.