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Cherokee Trail of Tears Bean

SKU: 0036
$3.95 to $11.55

Item Details

Also known as Cherokee Black, the variety is good as both a snap and a dry bean; when mature, the greenish-purple 6” pods encase shiny jet-black seeds. This bean was shared with Seed Savers Exchange by the late Dr. John Wyche of Hugo, Oklahoma. His Cherokee ancestors carried this bean over the Trail of Tears, the infamous winter death march from the Smoky Mountains to Oklahoma (1838-39) that left a trail of 4,000 graves.

  • 85 days
  • ±1,600 seeds/lb
  • Conventional
  • Pole bean
  • Snap or dry bean
  • Black seeds
  • Green 6 inch pods with purple overlay

This variety works for:

  • Fresh eating
  • Steaming
  • Roasting
  • Canning
  • Soups
  • Freezing

When preparing your snap beans, clean off the ends and wash before lightly braising them with garlic and tossing with bacon. You can also add them to salads or serve them with dip or hummus as an appetizer.

This variety makes a great black bean soup and is an excellent addition to spicy chicken soup recipes. Serve with rice or a piece of grilled bread topped with avocado.

Growing Instructions

Instructions - Sow seeds outdoors after danger of frost has passed and soil and air temperatures have warmed. Harvest frequently to increase yield. Pods can be left on the vine to mature and then harvested as dry beans.

  • Direct Seed: 2" Apart
  • Seed Depth: 1"
  • Support: Trellis, tepee, or fencing
  • Light: Full Sun

Ratings & Reviews

23 reviews

Large Yield, Easy to Grow


I grew these last season (Zone 4) and they were wonderful. Large yield of shiny black beans with good flavor. Easy to grow. Heavy vines that need a strong trellis (I learned that the hard way). I let them dry on the vine and harvested in early fall. I didn't try them as a snap bean but plan to this year!

Pretty pods but struggled to flourish


I was excited to grow this bean because it was developed in Oklahoma...unfortunately it seemed unhappy most of the time and struggled to flourish here in Oklahoma City, zone 7a. We got two nights of unusually cold weather after the plants sprouted and they did not like that. Once the weather started warming up, the vines grew about 3 feet up the trellis and then they just stopped. It is very, very windy here and I suspect that might have been a factor. They produced a fair amount of flowers, but I found the beans too stringy for young harvest. I talked to a few people in my gardening group here and they said they prefer them as a dried bean, and some were saying they feel these beans do better with a bit of shade. I will probably try them again next spring in a different location, but pole beans 'should' be about the easiest thing to grow, so this won't be my first choice for that. I will say that the bean pods themselves are very pretty with the purple stripe down the side.

My tears were for delight.


We loved this bean. First the vines grew about 9 feet. My husband is 5'10". We had never grown these before and wasn't sure what to expect.Tennessee 7a planted early May but had to watch for any frost.We ate them as green snap beans, so very delicious...a little stringy, but totally worth it.
They produced an amazing quantity. I put a lot in my freezer and had over flow to a friends freezer. The bean itself is tan but when dry they are a shiny black. We left 2 rows to dry on the vine. Saved some seed for replanting, shared some with friends. Cooked up the dry beans and they were the best bean I'd eaten in a long time.

Seeds were very hardy and a good eater!


Report from Aiken SC, sandy soil. Seeds were very hardy. Should also be grown, if only as a novelty, to remember "it has happened here" and guard against it ever happening again.
I grew these from seeds saved in 2012. I took them out of the freezer, thinking they had aged out, in 2018 and let them sit in the garage. This year, 2020, I decided to use them as a cover crop in a new bed and got about 75% germination. After sharing the with the deer and bugs,they did not get much attention, and replanting to replace the loss, I will end up with 3 rows about 15 feet long. Have shelled and eaten about a pint of beautiful deep purple to black mature un-dried beans and we love the flavor. Good texture with a hint of corn after taste. Color fades to grey / brown when cooked and take on the color of the Dixie Lee Butter Pea. The rest will go to seed so I can plant more next year. These will become a favorite along with the Dixie Lee and Pink Eye Purple Hull we love so much.

Good producer.


I grew these in zone 3b. They were slower to start and slower to flower than the scarlet runner beans, but they ended up doing very well. They are heavy producers. I'm letting them dry on the vine for soup beans. The vines have senesced faster than the scarlet runners, which I thought was interesting.
They are very pretty and have a wide variety of colours in the pods, from solid green to solid purple, green hazed with purple to green spotted with purple like a Dragontongue bean.

Super producer.


Wonderful flavor , super producer , zero problems. Planted in my 3 sisters garden in central Massachusetts. They outgrew their corn sisters !

Made me love green beans like never before


These wonderful plants gave me beans almost every day for 2-1/2 months! Then I stopped picking them and now they are drying out as beautiful maroon-colored pods. Will try some as dried beans but will definitely save some to plant next year. Highly recommend!!

Beautiful and Delicious


These plants were very prolific. The vines grew 10 ft and are very strong and heavy. The beans and flowers are so beautiful hanging on the vine. From 50 seeds I harvested 3 quarts of dry beans.They are delicious and cook up quick after an overnight soak.

Great Producer


My husbands family has always grown this bean. I didn't know the name of it the family just always called it Rufus beans. I did a little research and discovered that Cherokee-trail-of-tears bean is what we have. great producer here in Alabama 7b zone.

Build an 8ft fence/trellis, a must!!!


I grew these this year for the first time. Very Vigorous! Need a 8 ft fence/trellis. Thrived under Japanese beetles. Beans were great roasted as young in the oven. As full beans, were shelled out and cooked as soup beans. Very good flavor. Food Historian said they were also mashed for flour. Will try this. Highly prolific. 75 ft row will supply us with dried beans/flour beans this year. really recommend this bean. Be prepared to process LOTS of beans though, its not for the faint of heart!!!

A pole bean worth growing.


These are beautiful beans and I understand why they were carried along on the trek. They're prolific, with beautiful shiny dark green leaves. We use the vines in the summer to create a privacy fence - that's how thick the coverage is! Harvest them young when they are tender and there's no need for anything to make them tastier.



This was the 2nd year we grew this in one of our 3 sisters gardens. In spite of the worst growing conditions I can remember in my 50 years here in central Massachusetts, they out produced last year. We grew a more robust and tall maize variety this year to provide more support and height for these beans, and it paid off. This spring we be sinking 10 ft tree stakes in our hill locations for added support. These beans overtook 12 ft tall maize. These are a real star in our traditional cooking.

great producer


This was my first year growing this along with another variety. this surpassed my expectations as a heavy producer! it is October 4th in Zone 7 and I am still getting abundant yields every couple of days. and this is just from my first planting of the season. I will be growing this variety again. plus I love the fact that this bean has such a history behind it.

So tasty!


(Zone 6b) This bean has the best tasting green beans that I have eaten in a long time. We grew three other varieties this year (Blue lake, Top Crop and Provider) to have some diversity, but this one makes them all seem bland. It has a wonderful aroma when cooking, a taste that is so good it’s not easy to describe, and very good yields. I didn’t know they were pole beans, so I just set them out in a 30’ row and they are doing well despite a lack of support. They are covered in beautiful purple/white flowers. I will try these in the corn next year.

Great, low-maintenance producer.


I love how these are useful at every stage once the beans are growing - they were delicious as green beans (make sure to harvest them when they're fairly slim or they'll have a bit of a tough string), then when they turn purple you can harvest + cook them as fresh shelled beans, and the ones you don't get to in time can dry on the vine and be used as dried beans! They were extremely productive, grew quickly, and had no signficant pest or disease damage. Will definitely plant again.

Survivor Seed-sower winning bean for me!


G'day- thanks for making this available to Australia (from a Digger's club member)!

This bean is the *only* one to work for me in Survivor Seed-sower. I've killed every heirloom variety bean you imagine (speckled cranberry, purple king, lazy housewife, yin yang, etc fail fail fail). Even scarlet runner 7 year beans lasted just one year. Yes, mates cannot understand it either, but at least they grow Cherokee now too. I'm in the lower end of Australia's zoned alpine region meaning freezing cold winters and stinking hot summers on basically clay soil.

This bean tastes great at any stage and was amazing in Chilli Con Carne three years after harvesting. It's the only one I sow! (But this year I sowed some scarlet runners too.)

I just wish Stowell's corn was available in Oz (I usually go Aussie heirloom Jolly Roger or Balinese but am trying Kelvedon Glory F1 with Jarrahdale and Potimarron pumpkin).

Dear Bean Killer,
Congratulations!!! I think it's time to change your name from Bean Killer to Bean Champion!
Thank you-Jody

Great dual purpose bean


Like these beans very much. They are versatile, good for fresh or as a dry bean. I have had good luck with them and bountiful harvests. Well worth growing.

Firm bean


Very firm texture when cooked. Skins stay intact. Not a lot of damage at harvest rooms compared to other varieties.

Cant wait to eat one


Out on West Coast, I start all my plants indoors in pots, then move things to a greenhouse out doors, I only use filtered water and these are so far a very nice bean with 100% germination.



I planted two plants on a trellis and they took off. I had several harvests of green beans so far and I'd imagine more to come. Impressed to the point I ordered more to squeeze in a larger harvest before fall arrives in Central Texas.

Great product


I love everything I purchase through seed savers.Always great produce from these seeds

Will plant every year.


Great taste as a snap bean or shelled later in maturity. Easy to cook and even easier to harvest as it grows on a trellis.



Love these! They grew so well, tolerant of crazy weather, delicious. We ate them as dry beans.