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Mucuna sp. #002 from Costa Rica
Mucuna mutisiana ?


Once upon a time, on a April 2012 seed-collecting trip to the west coast of Costa Rica,
Nan Rhodes was collecting "Mucuna sloanei" Hamburger Beans
to support her jewelry making endeavors and her website: www,BeachBeans.com.

Nan shared photos of the trip. In one photo, which was mostly foliage of Mucuna vines, I noted a bit of color...   flowers!

It was NOT the typical bright yellow color typical of flowers of Mucuna sloanei.
So, what was it? It was like no other Mucuna flower that I'd seen before. Nan hadn't seen any Mucuna flowers while in Costa Rica.
With the pods being very ripe and dried at the time, this may have been the very last flower of the Costa Rican season!

   
Left: Part of the high-resolution image that Nan kindly shared with me. Note the pinkinsh/purplish splash of color in the upper right!.
(Note also, the cluster of pods left of center; see close-up, below)
Center: A zoomed-in view of flowers and leaves.   Right: Close-up of the flowers.
All above photos: ©Nan Rhodes



    
Long Peduncles!

A diagnostic character used to distinguish one species of Mucuna from another is the length of the peduncle.

The peduncle is the stem-like portion of the vine that hangs down from the main stem and supports the flower and pod cluster.

The peduncles of this species are extremely long!!! Estimated peduncle lengths range from 3 to 5 feet.   These are quite unlike the rather short peduncles of Mucuna sloanei, which are less than 1 foot in length.

Note: there is a possibility that what is being interpreted as long peduncles MAY simply be part of the vine, with short pedulcles off of that... but I don't think so. IF so, the vine would continue both TO and FROM the pods. Several pods or pod clusters show a single element TO the pods only...   i.e., very long peduncles!



 
Left: Several pods. Note the distinctly nodular structure of the pod ornamentation. Photo: ©Nan Rhodes
Right: Clearly evident on the upper right pod are the characteristic 3 vertical columns of nodules on the pods. Photo: ©Nan Rhodes

   
Left: A relatively unweathered pod, showing the stinging hairs.
Center & Right: Older pods missing most hairs but revealing the sculpture of the pod.
Photos: ©Nan Rhodes


The pods figured here look much like those of Mucuna mutisiana!   ...but, see flower notes, below.
See imagery on Herbario - Universidad de Panama



My own plants, grown from Nan's seeds.
Somehow, seeds of Mucuna sloanei may have entered Nan's collection, and subsequently given to me for growing.

Nan sent a handful of seeds to me. To research them, I planted two seeds; they both sprouted and are now growing quite well.
During late summer of 2013, one of the young plants unexpectedly produced a single cluster of 5 flower buds.

 
Left: The young (11/16/2013) bud cluster from the Costa Rican plant shows the "chandelier" arrancement of the flowers.
Note the paired dark spots at the distal end of each flower bud.   Note also the very short peduncle...   I'm concerned about that!
Right: Young buds of Mucuna sloanei grown in Florida, USA.

This "chandelier" form of inflorescence from my planted seed does not match the pseudo-raceme inflorescence for Mucuna mutisiana.
See imagery on Herbario - Universidad de Panama



 

Left: On November 17th, 2013, the buds from the Costa Rican plant had turned upward!
This is UNcharacteristic of Mucuna sloanei, but I have seen this upturning of buds in Mucuna fawcettii flowers.
Right: On November 19, 2013, the buds from the Costa Rican plant were found on the ground.
The fallen buds were opened, only to find yellow flowers...   maybe they change colors as they mature and open?

One other seed from Costa Rica was planted at the same time as the plant that produced the one set of buds.
This second seed has resulted in a healthy plant which did not produce any flower buds in 2013.

On October 15, 2014, both plants from Nan's two seeds have been growing "like crazy".
From the same plant that produced one inflorescence last year:

I noticed that this same plant now has LOTS of small, very new buds!     ...Stay tuned!


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