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!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sea Bean Bonanza

It is a myth that the best sea beaning takes place in the Spring.

I haven't been at this game for long but this weekend I got a good lesson in expectation management. Even though we only found a few beans last Saturday we were in for quite a surprise this week.

The weather was changing rapidly as we headed to Matagorda on Friday. We were running just ahead of a strong cold front. The tides had been way up for a couple of days and this weather event would surely stir things up.

After spending some time at MBNP, we decided to head out to the beach for a little beaning. The high tides had lifted the summer's beans up out of the loose sand and had deposited then in compressed lines of wrack. The recent rain had also washed away the sand and the beans were plentiful and easy to find. We covered up and pressed against the North wind and intermittent showers as we filled our bags with these beach treasures.

In just a couple of hours on Friday we collected 235 beans! We had a similar experience on Saturday with a total of 473 beans collected in two days.

The sea hearts are easy to see and are always fun to find. We found 28 hearts on Friday and 46 on Saturday.

We found lots of prickly palms (173 in two days). These will make some nice jewelry.

We found over 100 hamburgers - some red, some brown and a new one I've never found before. We also solved the mystery of the "big black ones". These were more prevalent and seemed to be those that had the waterproof covering compromised. The seed had begun to swell and sprout and given time and the right temperature and soil conditions would take root.

This corky thorn from a Kapok tree was my first.

We also found several smaller seeds - some of which come from local flowers and vines that grow on the beach and some which may come from a certain palm tree.

These are manchineel seeds that have not weathered much.

This is a small flower seed that may contain three lobed seeds.

This is the collection from two hours on Friday afternoon.

This is what a sea heart looks like - "Pick me up!".

Here is a heart and a hamburger side by side. There were lots of multiple finds.

Here is a prickly palm near some sea oats. You can see the effects of the rain in this shot.

Saturday's collection. I even picked up a couple of coconuts for the nature center.

These are some of the more unusual or new finds. In the forground is a Little Marble, on the right is a flat sea purse, on the left is a new type of hamburger, Mucuna holtonii from Belize. In the back are two mystery beans like I found last year. I still don't know what they are.

We found lots of sea purses of every color and pattern.

Another great find was eight Mary's Beans. I found four and so did Tracy.

These are gray nickernuts or sea pearls. If you click on the picture you can see the little contour lines on their shells.

Here are the sea hearts. Not bad for four hours of beaning.

Here are the hamburgers - big and small - and lots of red ones to boot.

We had a lot of fun - just like trick-or-treating only instead of candy we filled our bags with beans!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Grassroots Grant for MBNP

I have been working to secure a grant for the Matagorda Bay Nature Park from our company to provide educational assistance for school kids from around the area to come and participate in the programs offered by the park staff.

On Friday, I was honored to present a check for $5,000 to Betsy Terrel. We are in the "bean room" where they collection of beans is displayed along with shells and other beach treasures.

We have over 40 varieties of sea beans displayed with laminated cards describing them and giving their place of origin.

Visitors can learn about drift seeds and can match up what they find with the display.

When I am on site volunteering, those brave enough to enter the bean room leave with more information than they bargained for. As Tracy puts it, "John needs someone new to talk to about sea beans".