Snailflower or Snail Vine

The strange and lovely Snailflower (Vigna caracalla) vines are an attractive and unusual choice for any garden. Despite our desert heat and harsh climate, these vines do very well here in Tucson, Arizona, and they will begin blooming very early in the springtime.

Snailflower or Snail Vine (Vigna caracalla) flower

This cultivated vine is also known as Snail Vine or Caracalla Bean (formerly Phaseolus caracalla). It was one of Thomas Jefferson's favorites, and he described it as "The most beautiful bean in the world" and sought to acquire it for his gardens in Monticello, where it is still grown to this day.

Snailflowers are named for their unusual, snail-shaped flower buds.

Snailflower or Snail Vine (Vigna caracalla) flower bud

The usually lilac-colored flowers are also a bit snail-like with twisted and coiled keel petals.

Snailflower or Snail Vine (Vigna caracalla) flower

These tender perennial vines are native to Central and South America and are very sensitive to frost. They are fast growing from seed though, and prefer warm weather, full sun, and regular water.