Different Types of White Beans and Their Varieties

Types of white beans

One thing I like about the world of beans is that in the same “category” there is a lot of diversity. In this article in specific, we will be seeing the different types of white beans. What’s interesting about this group of beans, is that they are very similar in some aspects, but each of them have their own “special traits” that are best used depending on the gardener or chef purpose.

We can say there are 4 types of white beans which are Lima beans, Cannellini beans, Great northern beans and Navy beans. Lima beans are the only ones who belong to the phaseolus lunatus species, while the others belong to the phaseolus vulgaris.

Each one of these types of white beans possess characteristics that makes sort of unique, but some of them are pretty similar in texture and flavor and can be used in the same dish. However, if you want to grow any of these then it’s very important to select a good cultivar, as some possess different traits than others.

Lima Beans

White lima beans in a bowl

Also known as butter beans and baby lima beans, lima beans are probably one of the most well-known type. If you’ve read my guide on growing lima beans, then you might’ve seen that some of their cultivars can come in a range of colors such as red, green, white with some speckles of black and even a mix of purple and brown. Oh, and white also.

Despite this, they can be considered a type of white bean the only one of the phaseolus lunatus species. Depending on the cultivar, lima beans will be smoother, creamier or milder than others, which makes the job of selecting a cultivar more interesting depending on your taste.

Lima Bean Varieties

Lima Beans are probably the type of white bean with the most amount of variety inside their list of cultivars. Not only the flavor, but the amount of different colors the bean seeds have is pretty wide. For this list though, we will only see the varieties that are white in color, if you want to check the other varieties, you can check the table here

Lima Beans Varieties Table

Willow LeafPoleCreamy90 Days
Sieva CarolinaPoleGood Flavor65-80 Days
Henderson BushBushTender, Buttery65 Days
King of the GardenPoleTender90 Days
Burpee ImprovedBushSweet75 Days

Willow leaf: This variety has this name due to it’s willow leaves. It is a pole variety that produces dull, creamy white seeds similar to the Carolina variety. It takes 90 days to mature.

Sieva Carolina: This pole bean contains good flavored, small white seeds that are said to be very good into soups. They take 65-80 days from seed to maturity.

Henderson Bush: One of the earliest and most popular bush varieties of lima beans. Contains tender, buttery, small white seeds in the inside and the plant reaches maturity in about 65 days. It’s also disease resistant. You can purchase a packet of 150 seeds from the seeds needs store via amazon

King of the Garden: Talk to me about prestigious names. This is a pole bean variety, introduced in the late 19 century and still prevalent to this date. They produce Very Large, tender, white bean seeds over a period of 90 days more or less.

Burpee Improved: Introduced and first sold by Burpee in the early 20’s, this bush bean variety produces thick, large, somewhat sweet seeds at a high-yield pace. They take about 75 to reach maturity

Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans in a table

Being also called “the white side of kidney beans” (not exactly like that, but they do are known as white kidney beans) Cannellini beans are said to be native from Italy and are often used in soups, stews and salads.

They can be changed by Great Northern Beans in recipes, as they possess very similar characteristics both flavor and nutrient wise.

Cannellini Bean Varieties

Here is a list of some of the different varieties we can find for cannellini beans in the market:

Silver Cloud: This cultivar has a bush habit. It was bred by Washington State University as an improved cannellini bean with high yields and a greater disease resistance. Pretty meaty and nutty flavor. It matures in 90-100 days if harvested as a dry bean

Beluga: This one is a bush type developed by the Michigan State University. It possess large seeds and is a high yield cultivar that matures in 105 days.

Snowdown: A bush growing habit cultivar. Is resistant to many diseases and it a high yielding variety producing an average of 2,820 pounds per acre. It matures in 90-100 days.

Whitetail: This white kidney bean is a cross between Beluga/ND061209 and one of the most commonly grown white kidney cultivars in the US. It is a bush variety and it matures in about 101 days. It cannot be propagated or grown without a license from the NDSU Research Foundation.

Montalbano: Bush variety. The seeds are medium-large size and contain a soft consistency and delicate flavor. It can be harvested as a dry bean in 80 days.

Lingot: This one is a half-runner bean that can throw vines depending on the weather. it matures in 85 days.

Great Northern Beans

Growing great northern beans image for post

From the different types of white beans, great northern is one of the most bush-type cultivation focus. Northern beans are pretty similar and often compared to Cannellini beans, being the “biggest” difference that cannellini beans have a tougher texture than great northern beans.

Great Northern Bean Varieties

Great Northern beans don’t have as many popular varieties widely cultivated by gardeners as Lima Beans of Cannellini beans, or at least, I couldn’t find stores online where they’d sell the seeds. Anyways, here is a list of some of the northern bean varieties.

Great Northern Bean Varieties Table

CultivarTypeAverage Lb/acreWM IncidenceMaturity
1. WM = White Mold. Incidence and severity of getting white mold

Powderhorn: This cultivar was mas developed as a breed between two bean breeding lines of Michigan State University (G04514/Matterhorn). It’s a bush variety that produces on average 2,610 pounds of beans per acre of land. It has a greater white mold incidence than Matterhorn (even though is still not good) and also larger seeds. It matures in 95 days

Matterhorn: Bush type. It yields in average 2,410 pounds of beans per acre and it is very susceptible to get White Mold. It matures in about 94 days

Coyne: Another bush type variety (great northern are usually grown as bush types). It yields 2,380 pounds of beans per acre of land. It matures in an average of 97 days.

Navy Beans

Navy beans in a bowl

The dear navy beans. This type of white bean, which is also known as Haricot bean, have their name due to how the US Navy has served them as a staple food to their sailors since the mid 19’s. Navy beans are the smallest of all the white beans in this list and they used in the making of baked beans, soups, and even pies.

Navy Bean Varieties

As well as with northern beans, there was not much information for different cultivars of Navy beans available for purchase in the online market. But, here is a general list of the different cultivars of navy beans, uploaded by the Michigan State University Website and other sources.

Navy Bean Varieties Table

CultivarTypeMean Lb/acreWM Incidence1Maturity
  1. WM = White Mold. Incidence and severity of getting white mold ↩︎

SV1893GH: This is a bush type of bean that produces an average of 5-6 seeds per pods. It has a high resistance to Bean common Mosaic and it’s ready for harvest in around 100 days. This is the only cultivar that I was able to find in an online store, it can be purchased by meridian seed group, but they only sell these on bulk.

Alpena: Bush type of bean. it yields an average of 2,540 beans per acre and it has a good resistance against White Mold. It’s ready for harvest in around 99 days.

Medalist: Another bush type of bean. it yields an average of 2,540 beans per acre and it has a great resistance against White Mold. It’s ready for harvest in more or less 100 days.

Merlin: Bush type of bean. It yields an average of 2,610 beans per acre and it has a really great resistance against White Mold. It’s ready for harvest in about 104 days.

Indi: Bush type of bean. It yields an average of 2,340 beans per acre and it has a good resistance against White Mold. It’s ready for harvest in more or less 97 days.

T-9905: Bush type of bean. It yields an average of 2,720 beans per acre and it is pretty incident to White Mold. It’s ready for harvest in an average of 104 days.

Vista: Bush type of bean. It yields an average of 2,170 beans per acre and it is also incident to White Mold. It’s ready for harvest in more or less 99 days.

I hope that this article on the different types of white beans and their varieties was useful for you. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get as much quality information as I’d liked for the northern and navy bean varieties.

That being said, if you know some other details about this beans and their varieties and where the seeds can be acquired, please share it in the comments! The gardening community will be thankful.