A Sea-Bean Guide

Mary's Bean
Merremia discoidesperma

The Mary's Bean (aka Crucifixion Bean or Crucifix Bean) grows in just a few areas of tropical America, particularly forests of Guatemala.
This bean holds the record for the longest recorded drift: 15,000 miles.

Size is 20 - 30 mm. in diameter, 15 - 20 mm. thick, with a hard lustrous surface, black to brown or intergrades between the two colors.
One side has two grooves (the hilum) forming a cross.
It is this mark that gives the bean the name "Crucifix Bean" and why the bean has a deep religious significance for some who find it.

The Fabulous Mary's Bean - A "Wayne's Word" website (documents plants growing in Golfito, Costa Rica)
A record of drift to Porthcothan Beach on the north Cornish coast
Epitaph Seeds from Hurricane Mitch - by Curtis C. Ebbesmeyer

Gunn, C.R. 1977. Merremia discoidesperma: Its Taxonomy and Capacity of Its Seeds for Ocean Drifting.
Economic Botany 31(2):237-252.
Note: This article states that the Mary's Bean has the widest drift range documented for any seed or fruit!

Austin, D. 1995. Merremia discoidesperma (Convolvulaceae) seeds as medicines in Mexico.
Economic Botany 49(3):330-332.

This plant has been known to grow in Golfito, a town in the southwestern region (Osa Peninsula) of Costa Rica.
The drift seeds (semillas de deriva) of Costa Rica web page figures a Mary's Bean.

See also, in the "I.D. Guide", the related Wood Rose, Merremia tuberosa

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