Tuesday, December 22, 2009

National Seashore

Matt and Carly were home for Christmas and one thing we had planned was a trip to South Texas for a little King's Inn seafood. We made it a road trip and on the way back after lunch we stopped off at the Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) near Corpus Christi.

First stop - the Visitor's Center. I was eager to see what they had on display.

In addition to lots of printed materials, the folks at PINS had a nice collection of beach treasures including a whole dolphin skeleton, shells, and lots of beans.

Here is the master teacher at work with two willing students.

Some of the day's finds included starfish, branch coral, barnacles, sand dollars, and worm casings.

Searching along the high dunes of PINS.

The shells in the middle are called turkey wings. You can also see some of the fresh sand dollars.

Here is the difference between fresh and cleaned/dried/bleached sand dollars.

I found my first wood rose seed (left) which looks a lot like a railroad vine seed (right) but is much bigger. Both are closely related to the Mary's Bean - in morning glory family.

Here is one last look at the display table. One of the big seeds on top is a box fruit - I want to find one of those!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Native Beans

It's the beginning of December and a clear day, What better time to go for a walk on the beach?

The Teepee at Karankawa Village made a nice quick photo opportunity.

Found a few - palms, purses, burgers, hearts, and pearls.

Herre is a close up of the sea purses - one of the favorites.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Seed Dispersal

The weather report indicated lots of rain on Friday with high tides expected.

While this means our weekend fishing will be messed up, these are perfect conditions for beachcombing.

We enjoyed lunch at Spoonbills and headed for the beach shortly thereafter.

Sea beans are seeds that are dispersed worldwide by way of rivers and ocean currents. These local seeds are dispersed on the dunes and contribute to the vegetation which helps hold the sand in place.

We found several good beans including plams, hamburgers, purses, hearts, nickars, and a sea coconut.

The best find of the day was another thick-banded mucuna. You can see in these photos how different it is from a tpical hamburger bean.

Not only is it significantly larger in size, the hilum is much wider and is bounded by a light colored stripe. This is only the second one we have found. The other one is shown on this post.

I also picked up a large bone from a spine, a coconut shell, and a sea coconut in the husk that will soon become part of the collection at the Matagorda Bay Nature Park.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Padre Island Beans

On a recent work trip to Corpus Christi, I took two of my co-workers to the beach on Padre Island to look for beans. Hurricane Ida had been kicking up the Gulf and even though it had turned east and was far away from our location, the tide had risen to the point where some of the access roads were closed and there was a well defined wrack line to search.

Here are Dharma and Alexandra heading to Malaquite Beach to look for beans.

We found a nice selection of beans and everybody went home with some.

Alex had some walnuts, almonds, sea coconuts, and hamburgers.

Dharma had some of the same along with some palms as well.

We found some fresh sand dollars like this one and the one on Tracy's Onesnap Blog.

As Tracy describes in her post, I cleaned the stinky sand dollars up and hit them with some diluted bleach and the results were spectacular.

The two we brought home came out a dazzling white and have little or no smell.

These are real treasures from our trip and one day I hope to return to Padre Island for some more searching.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mangos and Corky Thorns

When the fishing is done, there is always time to take a stroll on the beach. If you keep your eyes open, there is no telling what you might find!

Here are some beans we found on this trip.

This is a mango seed - the first I've found on the beach. ID provided by Sergio.

These smaller seeds add a lot to the collection. I think one is a soapberry and one is a railroad vine.

These are corky thorns from the Kapok tree. The one on the left is broken in half.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Beans for Utah

My compadre Sergio stayed over an extra day from his trip to go to Matagorda with me and see if he could find a fish or some sea beans. The fishing was a little slow but he found several beans to take home to his family in Utah.

Some beans like this sea purse are hard to distinguish from shells.

This sure beats a day at the office!

This Mary's Bean was just sitting there waiting to be found.

Sea bean picker extradornaire.

This is a sweet find anytime but especially when you have limited time to look.

Have a safe trip back to Salt Lake City and say "Hi" to the girls!

Friday, October 30, 2009


We had the rare opportunity to introduce some friends to seabeaning. Our plan was to meet them for supper on Friday and to our surprise and delight we found them roaming around on the beach before our scheduled meeting time.

As is my habit, I mentioned something about sea beans in our Bible class and Rocky & Myra got curious. Then they made the mistake of asking, "What's a sea bean?".

Before long they were educated and eager to find one.

They had been looking along the fresh surf line without much success but then figured out that the best beaning was higher up the beach in the wrack line.

I picked up some really nice beans and what I like to call a "beanie baby"

We found lots of good beans including these sea purses and hamburgers.

I like the palm seeds and we found lots of starnut and prickly palms.

We had a nice dinner and I think Rocky and Myra will be back soon. Bean on!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Brain Fruit

Last week while collecting our haul of sea beans, I found a large pod.

I had only seen one of these before and that was at the Coastal Expo in the TPWD box of beach goodies.

After some internet research I was able to determine that this was indeed a drift seed from called a brain fruit. It comes from a tree that grows only in southern Mexico.

TPWD lists it on their page of sea beans found in Texas.
This thing really looks like a brain!

The specimen I found is in pretty good shape. They don't hold up well to longer drifts.

After the coconuts, this is by far the largest drift seed I've found yet. Here it is next to a big black walnut.

The search continues...You never know what you are going to find when you are looking!

More New Beans

The quest for beans continues.

We have made a couple of trips to the beach since the last post and each time have found a significant number of keeper beans. It seems that we are not only finding an abundance of the typical beans but that we are also finding several first timers.

As we continue to search the wrack line the secrets of the beans are revealed. Here is one of several sea purses that have started to sprout.

This appears to be a hamburger bean that has not only sprouted, but that has a fairly well developed root showing. While these seeds can sprout in Texas, the soil and climate conditions are not conducive to them reaching maturity.

This black beauty is some kind of palm - possibly an immature coconut.

This is one of three varieties of porcupine seed. This is the prickly version.

As luck would have it, I found this smooth variety nearby.

One of the real treasures Tracy found was this hamburger bean. Commonly called a thick banded mucuna, this bad boy in the middle above lives up to his name.

Note the size difference between this one and all the others.

This collection shows a variety of the cool beans available on the beach.

This is the sea heart collection - they come in all sizes and shapes.

We found some nice starnut palm seeds.

Here are the sea purses.

Hamburgers - red on the left and brown on the right.

Not a bad pile of beans for a couple of old beachcombers!

This is another new one found by Tracy. It is a cabbage bark seed.

This shot shows how it got it's name. The lateral ridge makes it similar to the puzzle fruit and the calatola but the texture of the skin is much different.

I finally identified these small watermellon-sized seeds as those from the pond apple.

These tiny yellow seeds are no bigger than uppopped popcorn and are the seeds of the white moonflower which grows locally on Texas beaches.

This is another corky thorn from the kapok tree.

If you have ever had a yearning for beachcombing or for just enjoying a relaxing walk on the beach, now is a great time. The summer crowds are gone and the high tides and rain are unearthing lots of new beans!