80 days — It is an early maturing, determinate, compact, bush-type heirloom variety that produces tannish-yellow beans with a dark ring around the eye. 'Arikara Yellow' is drought tolerant and reportedly exhibits moderate resistance to white mold. Although primarily used as a dry bean, it can also be harvested at about 45 days, when it is young and tender, as a snap bean.
It was commercially introduced as 'Yellow Indian' by the Oscar Will Seed Company in the 1880s, it was later renamed to 'Arikara Yellow'. A landrace variety, Mr. Will collected the bean from local Indians in the vicinity of Fort Berthold in South Dakota.
Although Will is who helped this bean reach a broad gardening public, its "discovery" is credited to the Lewis & Clark Expedition
. It seems that it was a staple food crop of the Arikara people and helped to sustain the expedition's members during the difficult winter of 1805 at Fort Mandan.
By 1810, Thomas Jefferson had already been growing the bean, which he referred to a "Ricara," for two years. In a letter dated October 6, 1810 to renowned botanist, Benjamin S. Barton, President Jefferson wrote, ". . . you expressed a wish to have some Ricara snap beans . . . brought from the Western side of the continent by Govr. Lewis. The Ricara bean is one of the most excellent we have had: I have cultivated them plentifully for the table two years.
Listed in McMahon's 1815 nursery catalog, 'Arikara Yellow' was one of the first plants collected by the Lewis & Clark Expedition
to be made available commercially.
Now quite rare, it is listed by Slow Food USA as being seriously threatened and has been added to their "Ark of Taste
" registry. USDA accession number PI 633617. Each packet contains one ounce, which is approximately 60 seeds.
- Although we continue to select for the traits described above and clean up the variety, do not be surprised if you experience a small percentage of plant variation -