Did this bean cross the Atlantic?

E Charles Nelson tippitiwitchet at zetnet.co.uk
Mon Sep 21 12:15:15 EST 1998

The message <EzMt5B.7oz at cix.compulink.co.uk>
  from  pmwr at cix.compulink.co.uk ("Peter Tinsley") contains these words: 

> Found recently on a Dorset shore, a rather delightful 
> specimen of the tropical bean, Mucuma urens.  Can anyone 
> tell me anything about the plant this came from, where it 
> might have started its journey, how long it might have been 
> at sea and is it worth planting?

> Peter Tinsley
> Marine Awareness Officer
> Dorset Wildlife Trust
> pmwr at cix.co.uk

The seed is a horse-eye bean, correctly now called Mucuna sloanei. It 
is a tropical shrub that grows in coastal regions in the Caribbean. 
The estimated time for drift is usually stated at about 15 months. 
These seeds are relatively common on western Atlantic coasts from 
Britain to northern Norway.

For further details see Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall 
1988 in which there is a detail account of British records of this 
and other seeds. A handbook on tropical seeds is to be published soon 
by the Botanical Society of the British Isles.

Dr Charles Nelson 
Tippitiwitchet Cottage, Hall Road, OUTWELL PE14 8PE, Wisbech, UK
tel [+ 44] 01945 773057. fax [+ 44] 1945 774077
e-mail tippitiwitchet at zetnet.co.uk

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