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Hurricanes and Sea-Beans

In the tropics, it is likely that hurricanes cause a lot of "rainforest beans" to be dislodged from their seed pods and fall to the forest floor. These fresh seeds and those previously existing on the forest floor are floated by the huge volumes of water deposited by hurricanes (or typhoons). The floods so generated will carry seeds down rivers and ultimatel to the ocean where these seeds become "sea-beans"! With travel times of perhaps a couple weeks from the Amazon or Orinoco Rivers to us, we here in southern Florida count the post-tropical-hurricane days to watch for increased beaching of sea-beans.

The winds from these storms can certainly push a lot of "stuff" onshore during the storm too, including sand, water,debris, and sea-beans! With sustained winds pushing material towards shore for an extended period, many sea-beans can be washed ashore. Additionally, many sea-beans that are washed ashore can easily be covered with lots of sand. This process could allow sea-beans depositied in the sand dunes to experience conditions sufficient to germinate and establish themselves, thus starting new colonies.

In 2004, Florida (USA) was hit by 4 hurricanes in 6 weeks!
Below, you can view one person's 3-trips-to-the-beach
"Spoils of Hurricane Frances"

6 Sea Purses; 44 Sea Hearts; 53 Hamburgers; 1 Mary's Bean

Hurricane Frances: 25 August - 8 September 2004


Seahearts, Entada gigas

Hamburgers, Mucuna spp.

Seahearts, Entada gigas

Hamburgers, Mucuna spp.

Sea Purse, Dioclea spp.

Mary's Bean, Merremia discoidesperma spp.

The above photos were taken and provided by Nan Rhodes, who collected the sea-beans in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (USA)
from the beaches north of Port Everglades, soon after Hurricane Frances left the area.

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