Red Hopi Limas
Hopi Red Lima Beans (Pala hatiko) are undoubtedly the most delicious Lima beans in North America. These heirloom varieties came into the Southwest around 1000 AD and were once cultivated by at least eight Southwestern cultures. The beans taste creamy and fruity with a hint of chocolate. They are endangered and are listed on the U.S. Ark of Taste.
These heirloom beans have drought and heat resistance, and so are well adapted to arid climates and tolerant of salt and alkaline soils. Their resistance to root knot nematodes historically saved the southern California lima bean industry from dying due to this pest. They are well adapted to sustainable production with a minimum of spring water, or dry-farmed using rainfall and runoff in sand dune fields.
The Hopi and Tewa are the last to grow it on any scale larger than garden plots.
Because Hopi and Tewa production is under traditional dry farming conditions that use rainfall or runoff but not pumped groundwater, they are sustainably grown even now. Even though they are important for the Bean Dance (powamu) ceremony of the Hopi, surveys show that fewer and fewer Hopi are farming since a drought began 11 years ago, and that nearly half of all heirloom vegetable varieties have been lost from Hopi fields and gardens since the Dust Bowl.