Blue bean shrub
Dead man’s fingers
This in the only shrub in the Lardizabalaceae family, most are lianas (woody vines). Akebia is one of the family’s 9 genera you might know, a nice garden plant. This species is native to the Himalayas and Western China. Other members of the family are found throughout China and in Chile.
Blue bean shrub grows to 15 feet. It takes sun or part shade and likes light soil, but is tolerant of boulevard conditions. It’s hardy in zones (5)6-9.
The pods blueish ripen in fall and contain an edible slime around the beans that reportedly tastes like watermelon. It’s listed in the California rare fruit growers list.
I saw a few pots of this plant at Pistils Nursery on Mississippi Ave. in Northeast Portland. The plants were dormant, with fat buds, just a few inches high. Twigs really. But somehow they still looked like something interesting. If I grow this plant and eat the inside of the fruit, I will report back.