Above, Hyacinth bean, Lablab purpureus, growing on the fence of the M'finda Kalunga Community Garden in the strip of Sara D. Roosevelt Park just above Delancey, on the Lower East Side.
I have noticed beans this year. Each year I see something new. They must have been around all this time, but it was their sheer number in Kensington that drew my attention, and made me more curious.
I wondered about the purple pea-ish pods, and have found that they are perfectly edible and have been grown for years between corn rows in Central America. They contain lysine, which corn notoriously (for people dependent on it as a staple) lacks.
Their tender shoots and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. The dried seed of the beans must be cooked before eating. I mean, why would one eat a hard, dry bean anyway?
Also interesting is that the flowering is triggered by the waning of the year. I had no idea. Explains why so many are in bloom now, when evenings have started to resemble evenings again, when dawn doesn't come just after 5am, and when our thoughts are turning towards autumn leaves.
Below, scarlet runners: Phaseolus coccineus. Bless you! Also edible. Best eaten young because they turn fibrous fast, like we do if we don't stretch. The starchy root is eaten in Central America.