Exotic to the eye, drift seeds, or “sea–beans” are actually seeds from common trees and vines that grow in the tropics. The beans fall from the parent plant, into streams and rivers, to drift with the ocean’s currents until being washed onto a shore thousands of miles from where they once grew. Floating in the sea by the thousands, only the hardiest endure long voyages on ocean currents which may finally bring them to rest on foreign shores. Sea–beans are known as symbols of good luck and longevity.
We provide polished (and occasionally unpolished) sea–beans to jewelry designers, collectors and beach-enthusiasts around the world. They are undrilled and not sold for growing purposes.
Sea Hearts are produced in huge, hanging bean pods, up to six feet long. Sometimes they are found with imprints and lacerations, caused by the teeth of fish and mammals during their voyage. They are impervious to salt water, even after floating in the ocean for several years.
These beans have been fashioned into all sorts of trinkets and useful objects. Sailors carried sea hearts as good luck charms to protect them from sickness and to ward off the evil eye. Seeds were sometimes cut in half, the contents removed and the woody seed coats hinged together. Hollowed out seeds were commonly used in Norway and Northern Europe for snuff boxes, match boxes and lockets. It is said that a sea heart (also known as fava de Colom) inspired Christopher Columbus to set out in search of lands to the west.
Quantity polished purchases will be matched for size and color when possible.
In the same family as Sea Hearts found on US beaches, this version grows abundantly in the Wet Tropics of Far Northern Queensland. They are not quite as common as their cousins, Entada rheedii, also found growing in the same areas. Having pinched and wrinkled edges, these are flat compared to E. gigas and E. rheedii, which are thicker, with more rounded edges.
Brown Hamburgers are the most common of all beach-found sea-beans. They are more ball-shaped than other Mucuna species which are flat in comparison.
Coveted by collectors, Sea Purses and Saddle Beans (Dioclea sp.) are one of the rarest and most colorful of all sea beans found on any beach. Distinct color variations range from butterscotch to solid black.
It was originally grown in Asia, but has drifted to islands in the Caribbean and Central and South America, reproducing there. They are found growing on the Hawaiian Islands where they may have also drifted or, like so many other species, introduced by people.
If this seed is held with the hilum pointed downward the bean looks like an English riding saddle, hence the name, Saddle Bean. These are flatter and more wrinkled than the Sea Purses found in Florida.
Magical Uses: Because of their ability to travel large distances to foreign shores with their powers of germination unimpeded, they are considered powerful talismans that bring fecundity, increase, and generative force. As such, sea beans find use in spells for the conception and safe delivery of a child, and are also carried as pocket pieces to bring good luck.