A Sea-Bean Guide

Red Hamburger Bean
Mucuna urens

Seed of Mucuna urens
Photos: D. & J. Winder

The characteristics of any genus, including the genus Mucuna, is exemplified by one single species that is designated to do so. This "characteristic" species, designated to depict what other species should be included in the genus, is called the "type species". In the case of Mucuna, the "type species" is: urens! Thus, the characteristics of Mucuna urens should be used to answer the question "What is a Mucuna"?

In botany, the reproductive structures... the flowers!... are often given a higher "weighting" of importance (versus seeds, leaves, etc.) in determining what other genera and species are similar or not. Gina's flowers (shown below) of Mucuna urens, because it is a type species, are "mission critical" to use to (help?) determine what "Mucuna sensu stricto" really is! Photographic documentation of Mucuna urens, their flowers, their structure, the resultant pods and seeds are critical to furthering our knowledge and characteristics of the genus Mucuna and all other species of Mucuna. The flowers are also important to distinguish Mucuna from other related genera (e.g., Dolichos, Dioclea, Strongylodon, Gigasiphon, etc.).

Seed of Mucuna urens  Plant of Mucuna urens
The young plant of Mucuna urens, grown from the seed shown to the left.
The seed is about 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter.
Photos: Gina Reed

Young flower of Mucuna urens  Young flower of Mucuna urens
After 5 years of only stem and leaf growth, a short "raceme" of young flowers of Mucuna urens appeared.
Note the zig-zag, alternating stalk (compare to the flower "cluster" of Mucuna sloanei)
Photos: Gina Reed

Immature flowers of Mucuna urens
(Click on either of these two images, above, to view larger images!)
Photos: Gina Reed

Mature flower of Mucuna urens  Mature flower of Mucuna urens
Mature, opened flowers of Mucuna urens.
Typical of Mucuna spp., there are 9 fused stamens + 1 individual, isolated stamen.
Photos: Gina Reed

Photo: Gina Reed

In the summer of 2012, Christopher Boykin has personally seen Mucuna urens growing wild
in the Zapata Swamp National Park, Cuba.

Some photos of M. urens and unidentified sea-beans that may be (or may not be!) M. urens
are on the "Sea-beans by Location" page for Windermere Island, Bahamas.

  • Images of Leaves, flowers and a pod (on Cybertruffle.com)

  • Images labelled Dolichos urens (an old/original generic placement)

  • "Wayne's Word" page including many sea-beans - by Wayne Armstrong

  • Definition of Mucuna - Wikipedia

  • A descriptive narrative - Division of Plant Industry (Florida, USA)

  • Flower and pod images - also with data on localities, common names, synonyms, and citations.

  • Images of flowers, pods, and seeds (scroll way to bottom of page)

  • Images of young raceme of flowers and a triplet of leaves

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