CULPEPER'S COMPLETE HERBAL
Description. This French or kidney bean ariseth at first but with one stalk, which afterwards divides itself into many arms or branches, but all so weak that if they be not sustained with sticks or poles, they will be fruitless on the ground. At several places of these branches grow footstalks, each with three broad round and pointed green leaves at the end of them: towards the top come forth divers flowers made like unto pease blossoms, of the same colour for the most part that the fruit will be of: that is to say, white, yellow, red, blackish, or of a deeper purple, but white is the most usual; after which come long and slender flat pods, some crooked, some straight, with a string running down the back thereof, wherein is flattish round fruit made like a kidney; the root long, spreadeth with many strings annexed to it, and perisheth every year.
There is another sort of French beans commonly growing with us in this land, which is called the scarlet flower bean.
This ariseth with sundry branches as the other, but runs higher, to the length of hop-poles, about which they grow twining, but turning contrary to the sun, having foot-stalks with three leaves on each, as on the other; the flowers also are like the other, and of a most orient scarlet colour. The beans are larger than the ordinary kind, of a dead purple colour turning black when ripe and dry; the root perisheth in winter.
Government and virtues. These also belong to dame Venus, and being dried and beat to powder, are as great strengtheners of the kidneys as any are, neither is there a better remedy than it; a drachm at a time taken in white wine to prevent the stone, or to cleanse the kidneys of gravel or stoppage. The ordinary French beans are of an easy digestion; they move the belly, provoke urine, enlarge the breast that is straightened with shortness of breath, engender sperm, and incite to venery. And the scarlet coloured beans, in regard to the glorious beauty of their colour, being set near a quickset-hedge, will bravely adorn the same, by climbing up thereon, so that they may be discerned a great way, not without admiration of the beholders at a distance. But they will go near to kill the quicksets by cloathing them in scarlet.
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