Walking along the tideline on the beach my eye was caught by a smooth brown object lying under the dried kelp. With a whoop of delight I picked it up – a sea bean, this (extra)ordinary object has floated in on the sea currents, from some faraway tropical place. The seed is from the pod of the Entada rheedii, a tropical creeper that generally grows on river banks in Northern Kwazulu Natal and Mozambique. With it’s tough outer seed coat it is well adapted to survive long distance dispersal by water. Also known as a ‘snuff box’ sea bean, it’s been adrift on a journey of some three thousand miles riding along on the powerful Mozambique – Agulhas current which pushes down the eastern side of southern Africa, to be deposited here in False Bay.
Check out other entries for this week’s challenge – WPC: Extraordinary.
22 thoughts on “Sea bean: ocean voyager”
oh my gosh.. you found one?? Hahaha… Liz, I have such awful memories of that thing.. when I was in school, we used to find these things all along our beach.. and if you rub them along a hard surface and touch your skin with it, you get a nice little burn 😀 And (I am ashamed to even say this) one day I took it along to school.. and sat next to a boy named Alpesh.. I rubbed the seed hard on the wooden desk and then I just touched Alpesh’s thigh with it.. and he yelled and jumped.. not only did the teacher give him a tough time, but he did not come to school the next day… he was a delicate sort.. and apparently not only did it burn him, but there was a huge boil there that drained fluids and his mom was furious, but he never told them how it happened.. Ah, the mindless sadism of childhood.. and to be honest, I never thought it would be such a big deal.. I mean, us village kids used to do that to each other all the while.. at worst, it would be like a nasty nip.. and a few seconds later nothing.. but this delicate city kid.. gosh.. it was too much to believe that he would get a boil on his thigh because of it.. from that day I never touched the thing..
It triggered off a memory… sorry…
Poor boy, but fascinating to read!
Yes, I know… like I said.. horrible memory..
You make me smile that years later you still suffer the guilt!! Childhood’s a testing time :). My husband relates stories of playing ‘confers’ using the seeds of the horse chestnut tree – the skill of the game sounded like the winner had to be adept at avoidance. Learning the lessons of life.
Well, not really, Liz 🙂 All I wanted to be was a soldier.. then..
But as I grew older I realized that I did not like violence at all, in any form..
That guilt is not for the pain alone, but that in spite of the stupid, cruel joke, he stood up for me. He did not ever reveal who had caused it. That makes me so sad. He was so wise and loyal and we were so foolish..
That’s quite a humbling tale, T. To have such loyalty – that’s true friendship.
Sorry about the delayed reply, Liz. Haven’t been up and about the last five days… Yes, it is a humbling tale, in a way 🙂
That IS extraordinary. It looks like a leather button. How big is it, Liz?
Yes! That’s a good description. It fits perfectly into the palm of my hand, about 5cm across at it’s widest point. It’s tempting to try and get it to germinate, but think it would battle with the Cape’s windy temprament. Interestingly the seed pod is an impressive meter in length.
Amazing journey! And quite an (extra)ordinary find, Liz.
Thanks Dina 🙂
Actually no.. I think it would grow most anywhere 🙂 (Sorry to barge in like this.. but if you do want to germinate it, you will have to try out scarification and stratification, I suspect.. since the cover survives the harsh salt water for months, I doubt if it would germinate unless the outer shell has been roughened up with some abrasive.. etc.. sorry, like I said, none of my business.. just wondering.. but it grows into quite a tough creeper… very thick…)
Have a mental image of trying out some tatooed design with that scarification suggestion 🙂 On the other hand think I’ll keep it on the window ledge as a memento.
Haha… but it should grow quite easily.. I suppose.. It is a rather thick creeper.. very thick vines, I mean.. or else you could keep the seed.. stays the same for years..
Like finding a message in a bottle! I love learning about the plant life on your continent, so different from our own.
Liz what a lucky find, I’ve heard of these but never seen one. Most of what’s on our beaches drifts across the Atlantic on the gulf stream so not much hope. Extraordinary indeed 🙂
Yes, lucky it was, and finding one conjures up colourful scenes of the tropics – hammocks swaying in the breeze, sandy beaches, coconut palms … Though that mighty Gulf Stream covers some distance lapping in round the Gulf of Mexico? Maybe the North Atlantic engulfs it and it must surrender it’s gifts to Neptune.
Oops, missed geographical point to you comment! Yes, difficult to hitch a ride up on currents from the Indian Ocean 🙂
I’m glad i clicked on this post. What an interesting little read and a great photo 🙂 Thanks for the info!
What a lovely find. 🙂
Well-spotted, good macro, and fascinating information. What’s not to like? 🙂