Flor de bótil is a beautiful scarlet colored flower that is edible and can be used for cooking. The brightly colored flowers and green shoots of this legume are actually the belong to a bean plant – known in English as “scarlet runner bean”. This vine is native to Central America and can be found in the southern regions of Mexico. I first encountered these scarlet-hued blooms at Mercado Viejo in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. I bought some that day and took them home to prepare them. After that, I have seen the flower growing in the milpa, on the roadside throughout Chiapas, and even represented in local textiles. When the beans form, the pods are edible whole or you may remove them and eat the bean inside. They also have a starchy root that is eaten. Read more about how to cook with flor de bótil.

Flor de Botil
Flor de Bótil growing in a milpa in Chiapas, Mexico

Phaseolus coccineus

The Latin name for “flor de bótil” is Phaseolus coccineus. The Nahuatl word for “flor de bótil” is ayocotl.

ALSO KNOW AS

  • Flor de Ayocote
  • Ayocotl
  • Scarlet Runner Bean
  • Multiflora Bean

HOW TO USE IT

  • The tender flowers and shoots of the runner beans are edible. They can be steamed, simmered or sautéed.
  • The flower is also grown as an ornamental.
  • Once the beans grow, the pods are edible whole as well as the beans separately. Like all beans, they contain a toxin and need to be well-cooked before consumption.
  • Edible starchy root

WHERE TO FIND IT

Native to Central America, you will find these bean flowers commonly in Chiapas. They are grown in the milpas with corn and squash. You will also find it in border regions such as Oaxaca and Veracruz.

HOW TO CHOOSE & STORE IT

Look for flowers that are stored loosely. This is a good sign that they won’t be bruised. The bean flowers are delicate so be sure to handle them with care. Best eaten fresh, but you may store them in your refrigerator for a few days. Wash before ready to use.

Flor de Botil
Flor de Botil at the market in Chiapas, Mexico
Scarlet Runner Bean
Flor de Botil growing on a milpa
Bean Flowers and Squash Blossoms
Bean flowers growing with squash blossoms on a milpa
Embroidered Flor de Botil
Embroidered textile with Flor de Botil in Chiapas, Mexico