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Cool Beans! Beachcombing at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Posted by Jody on September 15, 2011

Are you beachcombing for Florida Fighting Conchs, Atlantic Giant Cockles, and Cayenne Keyhole Limpets? How about Common Sundials or Spiny Jewelboxes? These are just a few of the 37 species of  seashells that have been documented at Padre Island National Seashore. But the coolest beach treasures you may end up taking home are the seabeans, also known as drift seeds, that can be found at this National Seashore located in South Texas. Cool beans!

Hamburger Seed - seabean (Photo by BAxelrod/Wikimedia Commons)

According to the National Park Service: “Seabeans originate from trees and vines mostly found on tropical shores and forests all over the world. In these areas, sunlight is unable to reach the forest floor, allowing the seeds to germinate. Some plants have adapted to their environment by producing seeds that will float to where sunlight has a better chance of reaching them. These travelers fall from the parent plant into waterways, such as the Amazon River, and are carried into the ocean. A majority of the seabeans found on Padre Island originate in the Caribbean and Central or South America.”  Throughout history, seabeans have been used for everything from jewelry making to creating musical instruments. They’ve been held as good luck charms and they’ve been utilized to produce soap and shampoo. The Park Service even offers a handy little brochure for seabean collecting and identification.

Padre Island National Seashore is situated off the coast of South Texas, southeast of Corpus Christi. The park is located on North Padre Island, in the Gulf of Mexico. Padre Island National Seashoreis a 70 mile stretch of protected tidal flats, dunes, coastline prairie and unspoiled sandy beach all rolled into one very large nature preserve.  In fact, North Padre Island is the world’s longest undeveloped barrier island.

Padre Island National Seashore (Photo:PD- USGov'-NPS/Wikimedia Commons)

Only the first five miles of beach are accessible by two wheel drive vehicles, and even that is dependent upon current beach conditions. Most of the beach is accessible only by four wheel drive vehicles. Be careful beachcombing at Padre Island National Seashore as the beaches are Texas public highways. Only street legal and licensed vehicles may be driven in the park. Check for vehicle rules and regulations before heading out to the sand!

Also available is a really nice NPS brochure on the seashells for beachcombing at Padre Island National SeashoreHappy beachcombing! -J-

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9 Responses to “Cool Beans! Beachcombing at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas”

  1. JK Bevill - Lost Creek Publishing said

    I saw one of these Hamburger Beans on the beach in Cartagena. They are always very curious things to see.

    • Jody said

      That’s very cool! Knowing how sea beans travel on the winds and currents is really fascinating to me!

      • JK Bevill - Lost Creek Publishing said

        At the time I saw this I had been in Colombia a year or two, or three. I had not had any good barbecue or hamburgers in that time and was immediately home sick. I told my wife that we had better find some good hamburgers soon.

      • Jody said

        🙂 How funny ~ they really do look like tiny sliders!

      • JK Bevill - Lost Creek Publishing said


  2. Wow, this article is nice, my sister is analyzing these
    kinds of things, so I am going to let know her.

  3. bryan lee said

    i thought mine was a palm seed. put it in potting soil, kept it wet for two months and now i have a vine that sprouted two weeks ago that is 4 feet tall. found the seed in pt.arthur now i have a vine in east texas. bryan

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