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Sea-Bean Stories

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The Seaheart supposedly inspired Columbus to find new land in the west. The Gulf Stream carried sea-hearts to northern European beaches, where they were commonly made into snuff boxes by polishing, cutting them in half, and attaching little hinges. In the Azores, the sea-heart is called Fava de Colom (Columbus bean).

The seaheart is often referred to as a Lucky Bean. Ed Perry states "In general, seeds have long been worn as good luck charms. Especially seeds that also double as "sea-beans" or driftseeds. For hundreds of years they have been seen as symbols of good luck, longevity, endurance, fertility, etc. Some of this is due to their ability to float ocean currents for years/decades before coming to rest on foreign shores (often with their powers of germination unimpeded). Other reasons may be due to their relative "rareness" on many beaches north of the Tropics. Entada seeds are revered world wide as good luck charms, and have been for centuries.

If you want more on history and folklore of driftseeds, you can explore Dr. E. C. Nelson's book, Sea Beans and Nickar Nuts. He probably has the best account of history and folklore of driftseeds.

Mary's Bean is also known as the crucifix bean because of the cross indented on both sides. They grow in papery capsules on tropical climbing vines in several tropical areas of the world. Legend has it that if women are given a Mary's Bean to hold during childbirth, it will ease the pain. [Note: Ed Perry provided a Mary's Bean to his wife during the birth of their child... he reports that, midway through the process, she threw the bean at him!]

A few hundred years ago, the sea-pearl/nickarnut was worn attached to string around the neck as an amulet to ward off the "Evil Eye".

The Coco-de-Mer is the largest seed in the world. It is as big as a watermelon and grows only in the Seychelles Islands, off the east coast of Africa.


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