Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Burny bean (not burny and without beans at the moment)

Whose daft idea was it to do NaNoWriMo this year? And why can't I write faster?

The burny bean (Mucuna gigantea) is flowering. (Oh, lots of other things are flowering too. But I can actually recognise the burny bean, unlike...well...just about everything else.) The vine scrambles over the rainforest canopy and makes narrow runways across gaps. There's a cat's cradle of burny bean across the driveway and the grey fantails like to sit there and watch what's going on.

The common name comes from its beaniness (it belongs to Fabaceae, the pea and bean family) and its burniness (the seed pod is covered in irritating hairs). (But not at this time of year.) It is also called a seabean (because it occurs in forests along beaches). As this rainforest block is 750 metres above sea level and on the western side of Queensland's highest mountain, I thought that calling it a seabean would get me into trouble with Advertising Standards.

I haven't seen any birds feeding from the flowers, so I wonder if this species is pollinated by bats? The petals are pale green and difficult to spot among all the other greens of the forest, so they are not screaming for diurnal attention. They also hang down in bunches, which says bat (or perhaps large moth) food to me. Still, I'm no judge of what a volant mammal might want for dinner, so I will have to observe and record.

But these flowers...ain't they grand?


12 comments:

Sherrie Y said...

"Burny Bean" is a nice title for that novel you're NOWRIFAEN. (not writing fast enough.)

Snail said...

I like it. Burny Bean could be the pyromaniac descendant of Sawney Bean.

makes notes

Calling Ravens said...

LOL! Gotta love that first line.

Fascinating...looking at just a photo, I would have thought it to be a seed pod and not a blossom!

sooooo...how far away are you from setting up camera traps and/or camera traps with night vision?

laurak@forestwalkart said...

in the third picture down...they look like they're some kind of little slug thingies...hanging upside down...see the tiny eyes?
yes! they be grand!! and they DO look like puffed up pods.

wildwings said...

Hi Snail, actualy SeaBean is not Mucuna gigantia it is Entada phaseoloides primarily because it has managed to spread throughout the Tropics by means of flotation.
We have both at Wildwings regards Allen

Snail said...

Meggs, I go out with the spotlight from time to time to see what's happening. (Not much, usually, except for the odd white-tailed rat and long-nosed bandicoot.) I'd love to set up a camera with IR trip, but they cost a bit too much just at the moment. (Also, the aforementioned rats will take it apart in seconds.)

Snail said...

You see, Laura, I was quite enchanted with the burny bean flowers until you mentioned the eyes.

The eyes! Dear god, the eyes!

Snail said...

Allen, I think 'sea bean' might be one of those names that gets applied to all sorts of things that are beany and coastal. This page gives it as one of the common names of M/. gigantea, along with a bunch of others.

While I was looking up the seeds of Entada in Cooper's rainforest fruit book, I stumbled across a species of plant with the common name of 'sea hearse'. Now I want one.

wildwings said...

You may have a bit of trouble growing Hernandia nymphaeifolia as it kinda likes the beach and sand and would be a bit challenged in your locale. It's cousin Hernadia albiflora grows happily in rainforest. Allen

Snail said...

I'll make a note of that. I don't really have enough space for a garden here and I don't want to clear any trees, but I will be looking for a larger property once this place sells. I hope I can get somewhere with space for a garden. (With a buffer zone to prevent any accidents.)

Dave Coulter said...

Cool flower. (I'm doing/not doing NaNoWriMo myself this year)

Snail said...

Very wise, Dave.