Shapes

Tomorrow an art student is coming to draw some of the collections. She requested some larger 3 dimensional specimens so I chose a large selection of seed pods and dry fruits. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

Many of the large seed pods and seeds within are extremely tough. This is because they have adapted to protecting the embryo inside from being killed by predators or the elements.  Sea beans, for instance  have adapted to floating long distances across the ocean to give them as much range as possible for dispersal.  Some seed species that originated in the Amazon have been found on British beaches! Charles Darwin conducted experiments on sea beans to see if they could survive being immersed in salt water for a long period of time. To the surprise of many botanists of the time, who believed salt water would kill all living seeds, the beans germinated even after weeks in salt water.

Sea beans are also known as drift seeds, though the term encompasses a wide range of plant species. In the photo below, the paler seeds are known as nikar nuts and come from a leguminous shrub genus known as Caesalpinia.  

I would often find sea beans on the beach when I was growing up in the country of Belize. Sometimes I would find hermit crabs cracking them open. Sea beans may have adapted to be tough, but evolution is a constant race, and the crabs are catching up.

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About Gina Allnatt

I have just finished a year long traineeship as a Biology Curator at Manchester Museum. I am currently a research and curation volunteer in the Entomology and Botany departments. -Gina Allnatt
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