Sprouting sea beans


I know many people collect them, but have you ever thought about sprouting sea beans?

Here’s a new shot of the hamburger bean (Mucuna urens) I showed you in my previous post on drift seeds:

And now here it is a week after I sawed a notch in it with a pocket knife, soaked it for a day or two, then put it in moist peat moss and vermiculite:

sprouting sea beans

Sprouting sea beans takes a little work but the resulting plants are really cool!

See the little root peeking out? And how weirdly black and swollen the bean looks? That sucker took on a lot of water (and piercing its seed coat was no easy feat). I replanted the bean after the above picture and let it alone for a few more days… until a shoot rapidly emerged from the ground. And I do mean rapidly! It grew about 12″ in a couple of days and started rotating around in a circle looking for something to grasp. It moved so fast that my wife and I sat on the porch and watched it make an entire rotation in about an hour. I stuck a little pole in for it to grab… which it did – and twisted itself completely tight to it within another hour’s time.

From what I read, this particular bean grows many tens of feet into the air… reaching the top of tall trees… so I have no idea how I’ll be able to keep it contained. I’d like to raise it to a point where it bears beans of its own, but that will mean protecting it from frosts this coming winter.

Here it is now:

sprouting sea bean in a pot

Mucuna urens is a close relative of the velvet beans (Mucuna pruriens) I’ve been growing but it’s apparently even more tropical. Who would’ve thought you could find a bean on the beach and grow it? I picked these things up dozens of times without ever thinking about germinating one. There’s a first time for everything, I suppose. And even if this doesn’t do anything for my “survival gardener” cred, it’s at the very least a rather satisfying experiment.

For more on drift seeds, check out www.seabean.com.

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  • wow, i am so impressed with that bean!

    ok, more specific question about seed starting – My one blueberry bush has about 7 berries (it's in the shade, fertilized by pee-ponics (not mine!))… assuming i can get those berries when they are ripe before the tree sharks do, how do i grow the berries into new bushes? i don't think i have ever even seen a blueberry seed before. maybe plant the whole berry and hope for the best? or ferment it??

    • Unless you're looking for genetic diversity, it's much easier to grow blueberries from cuttings than from seed. The seeds are itty-bitty things inside the berries. Here's a link on growing them I found recently:


      I believe stratification is necessary. In that article, they're using frozen blueberries.

      Cuttings will produce a lot faster, though. Simply take some small hardwood cuttings, dip 'em in rooting hormone and stick them in potting soil in pots on a windowsill. Rubber-band ziplock bags over the top of the pots to keep the humidity in. The little tents make a huge difference in your strike rate. I get about 80% success this way. They root in just over a month or so. I did a handful last year and planted them out in fall – they're about 12" tall now and doing great.

    • sweet, i will try stratifying. yes, i'm also interested in the diversity. maybe will try cuttings later, if the tree sharks do get the berries!

  • what kind of bean is this?

    if you don't know the answer, i won't think any less of your plant nerdiness. you want one to try out?

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