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Mucuna fawcettii Urban, 1908
The Thick Banded Mucuna

See also: the Mucuna fawcettii page in the "Sea-Bean Guide"

Mucuna fawcettii was described by Ignatius Urban in 1908. The common name of "Thick Banded Mucuna" or "Thick Banded Hamburger Bean" is applied due to the thickness (height) of the black hilum surrounding much of the periphery of the large seed... i.e., large for Mucuna species.

This species was once considered to be both endemic to Jamaica and also extinct from Jamaica. This situation could not be true if we were occasionally finding fresh seeds stranded on beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, Florida and elsewhere. My two purchases of seeds from the Amazon region of Peru yielded these seeds on both occasions. They were growing in the jungles of the Amazon! Evidently, the seeds fall to the jungle floor, wash into the Amazon River, float downstream to the mouth of the Amazon, and out to the Atlantic Ocean where currents carry them to their beach destinations.

One of these purchased (non-drifted) seeds was planted by Gina Reed and her results are shown in the Sea-Bean Guide. Gina's seed sprouted, grew, and produced flowers. However, no pods ever developed. I later planted a seed; it sprouted, grew, and produced two inflorescences (clusters) of flowers. As the flowers matured, I noticed that they were not opening on their own... and thus no pollination would occur, and thus no pods would be generated. Therefore, I manually opened all of the flowers and pollinated each flower myself! Sadly, this effort was "fruitless" ...i.e., no fuit (pod) was produced by any of the flowers.

The photos shown below document efforts to better understand the life cycle of Mucuna fawcettii.

Mucuna fawcettii
Non-drifted seeds direct from the Amazon region of Peru

Mucuna fawcettii
The hilum is very thick, hence its name: Thick Banded Mucuna

Mucuna fawcettii
Young leaves

Mucuna fawcettii
Mature leaf   (Note: 3 "leaflets" = 1 "leaf")

Mucuna fawcettii
Note the offset midrib of paired leaflets, characteristic of Mucuna

Mucuna fawcettii
Very young bud

Mucuna fawcettii
Maturing bud, almost ready to open

Mucuna fawcettii
Young flowers emerging from the bud

Mucuna fawcettii
Immature flowers, about 12mm long

Mucuna fawcettii
Note fine hairs on the young flowers

Mucuna fawcettii
Hairy flowers growing downward

Mucuna fawcettii
Downward pointing flower will eventually twist and point upward!

Mucuna fawcettii
Young flowers in the process of twisting upward

Mucuna fawcettii
With more growth, the flowers have finished twisting upward
Flowers now open upward, affecting whatever implements pollination!
The pistil will now emerge above the stamens and pollen.

Mucuna fawcettii
Side view of inflorescence (flower cluster)

Mucuna fawcettii
Inflorescence seen from above

Mucuna fawcettii
Inflorescence seen from above

Mucuna fawcettii
The brown calyx is diagnostic, distinguishing one Mucuna from another

Mucuna fawcettii


Mucuna fawcettii


Mucuna fawcettii


Mucuna fawcettii


Mucuna fawcettii

Mucuna fawcettii


Mucuna fawcettii


Mucuna fawcettii





Mature flower, but still unopened, with stamens and pistil not exposed

Mucuna fawcettii
Tip of opened flower, exposing a stamen (with pollen) and the pistil

Flowers NEVER opened on their own to expose the stamens and pistil. Each had to be manually opened and pollinated. In nature, both the flower opening and pollination MAY be done by nectar-feeding bats (which don't exist in Florida) or by birds, some of which may go after insects associated with the flowers, inadvertently opening the flower and getting pollen all over their heads! Such Mucuna flowers open with such force they are referred to as "explosive" flowers.
Mucuna fawcettii
Dissected flower

Mucuna fawcettii
Opened flower, to expose stamens and pistil
Note 1 stamen separated from others... a condition called "diadelphous"

Mucuna fawcettii
Closeup of stamens, with white pistil slightly out of focus

Mucuna fawcettii     Mucuna fawcettii
Calyx comparisons:   Mucuna fawcettii (left),   Mucuna sp. #001 (center),   Mucuna sloanei (right)


Flower size comparison:   Mucuna fawcettii (left, 95 mm),   Mucuna sp. #001 (center),   Mucuna sloanei (right, 65 mm)

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