Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pelican Island Refuge and the Nickerbean Shrub

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is located about two miles south of Sebastian Inlet bridge, on the lagoon side of A1A, across the road from the ocean. Friend Marilyn and I took a field trip to the Refuge yesterday, and I took a variety of photos, most of which you'll see later in a Space Coast Eco post about the Refuge.

I was curious about this bush, so I sent the photo to Wayne for identification. He provided me with the following: Your plant is gray nicker. You can see a lot of it at Sidney Fisher park. The leaves don't look quite right, though. I think the shiny leaves must belong to some other plant. At this time of year, nicker would be in bloom or budding. The seed capsules (which have vicious spines) must be from a previous year. Maybe this plant was dead and had no leaves.
In our Florida Beach Basics - The Space Coast DVD, we talk about nickerbeans as a common sea-bean on our beaches, but I had never stopped to think about where they came from. (If you haven't figured it out by now, there's lots I don't know, but fortunately, I do know some experts like Wayne that are willing to share their knowledge!)
This photo and information is from the sea-bean segment of the DVD. Nickernuts grow in prickly pods on Nickernut shrubs. When those pods ripen and dry up, they crack open, and the seeds roll into the water and wind up on beaches. There are brown, grey, and yellow nickernuts. Grey nickernuts are the most common. Wayne also sent some informative links, which are included in the Links section at the bottom of this post. One of those links is to a 2002 Drifting Seed Newsletter and story by Ed Perry about the Brown Nickerbean. Ed's story includes a ruler illustration so you can see that these beans are only about 1 - 2 inches long. (Ed will chastise me for calling these things nuts instead of beans. ) Photo by Matt MacQueen.
A follow-up - Friend Robin read the post about Curtis Ebbesmeyer's book, Flotsametrics, and told me she had just that day heard him on an NPR interview. The link to that interview is provided below.
Nickerbean (gray nicker bean information)
Brown Nickerbean (Ed Perry article)


Timothy said...

Hey there, I tried to leave a comment earlier but it wouldn't let me. I was just wanting to let you know that I really like the pictures on your blog. I'm a Floridian also! Good job and keep up the great work!


Jay W. said...

I've seen Knickernuts on Samsons Island in Satellite Beach. They were near the highest "mountain" on the island. A pic of them in their green stage:

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