Entada gigas  (L.) Fawc. & Rendle Sea heart  - Fabaceae

Sea hearts, Entada gigas, a woody vine native to the New World tropics, has seeds that drift to the Gulf and Atlantic beaches of the United States and to the shores of northern Europe via the Gulf Stream.  The sea heart has the distinction of having the longest bean pod of any legume and can reach up to six feet (180 centimeters) in length.  The pod contains mahogany brown, disk-shaped seeds, three to four inches (10 centimeters) wide.

Those sea hearts that arrived intact on the shores of England were given to boys who were likely to go to sea.  It was believed that the seed's talismanic properties would insure the bearer a safe voyage wherever he might go.  Seeds were also cut in half, hollowed out and hinged to carry snuff, matches and tobacco by those lucky enough to find them.5

Legend suggesting that the sea heart inspired Columbus to search for lands to the west is borne out in the name "Columbus bean," used by people of the Azores.6

Because the vines of the sea heart act as an arboreal highway for monkeys in the rain forest canopy, it is called monkey ladder in the South American tropics.

 

 

 

 

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