On a walk at Spoonbill Marsh on 11/7/2015, Steve Palmquist (Class of 2014) asked me if I knew the name of the plant further down the boardwalk with the green fuzzy pods. Gayle Lafferty (Class of 2012) immediately knew that he talking about grey nicker bean (Caesalpinia bonduc), though I did not.
Indeed, unripe pods from a distance do appear to be fuzzy. The ripe pods, which I had in mind, are covered quite thorny and are shown below next to an invasive exotic Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolious). May the grey nicker bean win!
Inside each pod are 2 or 3 hard grey round seeds about one-inch in diameter. Nicker bean grows found in coastal areas including on beach dunes. Its seeds float and become “sea beans“; Only 1% of plants have seeds that float and are collected from beaches by aficionados.
Its foliage is bipinnate and quite thorny. Often, this aggressive vine clamors over other vegetation and grows in a tangle.
Racemes of yellow flowers festoon this member of the pea family, Fabacae, throughout the year, shown above in a photo taken on a walk in 2011 at Sebastian Inlet State Park.