Isogloss for green, string, and snap beans?

I have completely failed to coerce google into providing such a map. My wife and I both used “string bean” (we’re from NYC and Philly, resp.) and learned “green bean” when frozen vegetables became common (late 40s) and have both heard “snap beans” but we are curious about the distribution.

Aren’t those three different varieties of bean?

I’ve always heard all three of those terms to refer to the same bean. I used both “string bean” and “green bean” growing up. “Snap bean” I know from elsewhere. But they all refer to the same bean, in my experience.

Same here.

For me, string bean and green bean are synonyms. A runner bean on the other hand is different. The varieties I grow, green beans are round and runner beans are flattish.

Kentucky Wonders.
Strung together and dried they are called Leather britches.

There’s snap peas, which look a lot like green beans (as I call them), but are quite different. Haven’t heard of “snap beans” though.

Wikipedia says that they were first created in the 50s by some old-fashioned genetic engineering (aka crossing somewhat related plants).

There’s also ‘pole beans’ and ‘French beans’ (commonest in UK), all names for the cultivars of Phaseolus vulgaris.

Wikipedia reckons ‘snap beans’ is used for younger beans with no seed development, but that’s a new one on me, possibly because I’m mostly getting info from seed producers; I’ve heard all the others to refer to the same plants. Aside from the ‘French’ name in the UK, I’ve not noticed any particular regional pattern.

Yep, same thing.

There are some varieties of snap beans that are called “stringless” but they are just less stringy than other types.

“Pole beans” to me are a slightly different bean, a good bit longer and perhaps a bit thicker than run-of-the-mill green beans. Though, looking it up, they all do seem to be the same idea, and green beans are divided into two groups: bush beans and pole beans. I do know that at my supermarket, they sell both green beans and pole beans, and they look a bit different.

I’ve never seen a distinction made between pole and bush beans at the eating end, but it’s an important distinction at the gardening end, because pole beans need something to climb. In my experience they also produce more per square foot of garden space, but I don’t know how universal that is.

Same here, at least on the culinary end of things.

“Green beans” and “string beans”, around here, mean exactly the same thing. “Snap beans” is also the same thing … EXCEPT that people won’t call them “snap beans” unless they’re buying them raw from the produce section and snapping/cutting** off the ends at home. You could well hear a local say something like “I bought three pounds of snap beans for my green-bean casserole.

The Wiki reference to “snap bean” referring to the young “un-beaned” green/string bean plant makes some sense, though I had never heard of that distinction before.

The canned stuff is NEVER “snap beans” around here, even if the plant matter inside is the same species. Canned is commonly “green beans”, with “string beans” a not-unknown variant.

*** Snapping is fun for a while, but slow and tedious. With a knife, you can prepare snap beans for the pot much more quickly.*

I think we used “string bean” when we grew them when I was a child. But I feel like that eventually got overtaken by “green bean.” I remember older folks referring to “snap beans,” though I’m not sure I ever really knew what they meant.

I’m from SE Ohio.

I’m curious, so I’m going to ask my mom.

I picked green beans for money as a kid. Good old Blue Lake pole beans. When I had a large garden I grew the same type. With a small garden I grow Blue Lake bush beans.

In short, I’ve seen a lot of both varieties in my life. A lot.

The beans themselves are the same.

Note that some call Blue Lakes “stringless” but they have a string when snapping them.

Green beans (beans harvested when green instead of when dried) used to have a lot more of an inedible fibrous ‘string’. More like english pod peas. So they were called string beans.

The string was mostly bred out over time. Some people still call them string beans even though there’s no string. Or they grow heirloom varieties which still have a string.

Other usage (and I’d like to say it is southern) changed the name to snap beans or snaps, because you can break them in two and there’s no string to deal with.

My husband, from North Carolina, calls them snaps, because his mother, from tidewater Virginia, called them that. I call them green beans, never heard them called snaps until I met him.

Don’t get him started on grits vs polenta . . .

I’ve heard back from my mother. She’s nearing 80 and she says that she generally says “green beans” but that her mother used “snap beans”:

I sent the question out to all of my family members and my generation seems to use “green beans” pretty exclusively, though most know what snap beans are. Getting very little feedback on string beans, so I may be wrong that it was a common term when I was a kid.