Unidentified Sea-Beans

Dioclea ?     Mucuna ?
Possibly Mucuna benettii or Mucuna albertisii?

This sea-bean has been a "puzzler" regarding its identity. The seeds are from Columbia, and described as a Dioclea. It may actually be a Mucuna. The only way to tell for sure is to plant, sprout, and grow the seed.

See the page in development: Mucuna or Dioclea?

UPDATE: 6/10/2011
I THINK that Dioclea spp. have VERY hairy stems & leaves,
while Mucuna spp. will have only slightly hairy (or smooth) stems and leaves!
This discussion needs to take priority, with data to back up statements, and this page needs to be revamped soon!

Ed's Notes: This is similar to the one that is giving us problems right now. It's either a Dioclea, or a Mucuna. I have no idea what species. We are purchasing Mucuna bennettii and Mucuna albertisii seeds from Internet vendors that look very much like these, and the ones that also wash up on the beach.

When I sprouted one (thinking it was a Dioclea), a long time ago, it died shortly, HOWEVER, it did have lots of hair on the leaves. I didn't think much about it until Gwil Lewis (News and Notes, page 11 of The Drifting Seed Newsletter vol. 9(1) said: Dioclea has NO hairs, on leaves or the flower's calyx. Mucuna does have hairs.

I have a couple of these in my drift collection. There is MUCH variation in color, and shape of these, making things even more difficult. There are some other Dioclea out there other than reflexa, so I am not going to positively say these are Mucuna.

Extracted from page 11 of: The Drifting Seed Newsletter vol. 9(1) May 1, 2003
News and Notes
Lately there has been some confusion about some of the seeds we find on the beach and have long referred to as "Diocleas." Both Izumi Hanno in Japan, and Mark Bartlett in Florida have been purchasing seeds; some look just like the non-spotted Diocleas we find on the beaches, but they are labeled Mucuna albertisii, and Mucuna benettii! Here's what Gwil Lewis from the Herbarium, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, had to say: "Dioclea and Mucuna are quite easy to tell apart in flower, all Mucunas have much larger flowers than all Diocleas. In foliage the 2 genera can be quite similar. In fruit it depends on the species. Some Diocleas and Mucunas have very similar seeds which are difficult to tell apart on gross morphology. Mucunas have irritant hairs on many parts, Diocleas do not.
Mucuna flowers often dry blackish, while fresh flowers range from white, through yellow to orange, red, purple, and green. Diocleas are nearly all pinkish, mauvish or purple and do not dry black, the standard (banner) often with a central yellow spot. The larger drift seeds of the two genera can look very similar."

The brown specimen was uncommon, with most specimens dark brown to almost black.

Ed's specimens
of the unknown species.

Dioclea reflexa
Note the black spotting
(Ed Perry's ID)

This image (July 1, 2004) shows the growing tip of a leafless new sprout,
about 22 inches in total length and probably less than a week old.
The criteria are: Dioclea = NO hairs, on leaves or a flower's calyx; Mucuna: does have hairs.
NOTE: I think that the above statement is incorrect!
Dioclea = MANY hairs; Mucuna = few hairs
This photo is of a young stem (not a leaf, flower, or calyx), with many hairs.
Gwil Lewis states: "Mucunas have irritant hairs on many parts, Diocleas do not."

NOTE: the above statement may be exactly backwards!

Stem discontinuity, July 10, 2004.
Growing tip and hairs to the top;
base of stem and no hairs (or much fewer) to the bottom.

New leaves, July 10, 2004.
They can't get much more hairy than this!

This IS a Dioclea... see mature leaves, below.

The following photos were taken July 25, 2004

These leaves are absolutely, definitely, positively those of a Dioclea!!!
The paired leaves of a Mucuna will have the midrib substantially offset from center.

Here's some photos of similar seeds
The specimens in the photo on the left were purchased on Ebay as "Bulls Eye Seeds", possibly from Central/South America.
The specimens in the photo on the right were purchased from a vendor in Tiliran, in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica.
Click the images for a higher resolution view, then click the resultant image to really zoom in!

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