Sebastiania pavoniana

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Sebastiania pavoniana
Mexican Jumping-bean (4697560519).gif
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Sebastiania
S. pavoniana
Binomial name
Sebastiania pavoniana
(Müll.Arg.) Müll.Arg., 1866[1]
Range of "Sebastiania pavoniana"
Range of Sebastiania pavoniana

Sebastiania pavoniana is a species of tree in the spurge family[4][5] native to Mexico[1][6][4][7] and northwest Costa Rica.[3] It is the 'bean' part of the Mexican jumping bean, despite not being a legume like true beans.[5] The 'jumping' is provided by the larva of the jumping bean moth (Cydia saltitans).[8][6]


The term 'Mexican jumping bean' usually refers to the seeds that have been attacked by moth larvae, but the entire plant is also called 'Mexican jumping bean.'[5][4][9] It was difficult to determine the species of plant responsible for the novelty item at first, as the C. saltitans larva leaves the seed sterile.[8] In addition, a related plant Sapium biloculare (syn. Pleradenophora bilocularis) also has jumping seeds[6] and is also commonly called 'Mexican jumping bean.'[9][10][11] However S. pavoniana is the species most commonly sold as curios.[11]

In Spanish, it is called semillas brincadores ('jumper seeds'),[6] or simply brincador ('jumper').[4][5] Other Spanish names include palo de flecha ('arrow wood') and yerba de flecha ('arrow herb'), but it is not used to create or poison arrows.[12] In Mayan it is called túbucti.[4] The Aztecs call it mincapatli (or miccapatli[12]) which means "herb of death,"[13] but the name is understood as 'seeds against death' and not as causing death.[12] The Yaqui named the seeds echimu-chechepete (seeds that jump).[13][12] The seeds are called wurmiger Kaffee in German.[12]

Johannes Müller Argoviensis when he originally described the species first placed it in Gymnanthes sect. Stenogussonia,[1] but the species was later transferred to Sebastiania.

The specific epithet pavoniana might derive from the Latin pavon ('peafowl').[14] However neither the flowers nor fruit are peacock blue or any other shade of blue, but more of a greenish yellow. The seeds do have a spot that might abstractly resemble the eyespot on a peacock's tail feathers. The most likely etymology honors José Antonio Pavón Jiménez, from whose collection the species was originally described.[1][7]


S. pavoniana is a slender tree or large shrub that grows up to 10–12 metres (33–39 ft) tall.[5] The trunk diameter at breast height is 6.7–10.1 centimetres (2.6–4.0 in).[15] Initially it can resemble Excoecaria indica, but the female calyx is eglandulose (lacking glands) inside.[1]

The branches have subterete twigs with leaves that are up to 8 cm long by 312 cm wide, but often smaller.[1] The leaves are membranous,[7] fuscous, and glabrous.[1] The leaf shape is oblong-ovate[7] to oblong-subelliptical.[1] The base is obtuse, with the apex shortly cuspidate-acuminate.[1][7] Margins are bluntly crenate-serrate.[1][7] Petioles are short,[7] about 8 mm long.[1]

Spines are shorter than the leaves, about 3-512 cm long.[1]

Bracts are broadly ovate, subtruncate, and lacerate-denticulate.[1][7]

The plant is monoecious, and thus has both male flowers and female flowers on the same individuals.[15] Female flowers have a calyx with sessile laciniae.[1][7] The ovary is appressed, broadly ovate, apiculate, and denticulate.[1][7] The style column very short.[1][7] Sepals of male flowers are subulate and entire.[1] Male flowers have short pedicels with younger ones subsessile.[1]

S. pavoniana has cryptic fruit[16] with hard capsules.[1] Each fruit has three sections.[8]


S. pavoniana is native to northwest Costa Rica[3] in Guanacaste Province,[15] and Mexico,[4][1][7][3][6] including the states of Baja California Sur,[5] Puebla,[5][1] Sonora,[5] Jalisco,[5] and Veracruz.[1][5] Specimens have also been found in Belize.[17] It is one of the most common trees of the Tropical dry broadleaf forest,[5][18][4] especially in late-succession forests as it is shade-tolerant.[15] It can be found growing at 275–925 metres (902–3,035 ft) in elevation.[5] It typically grows in arroyos or other riparian zones.[18]


S. pavoniana flowers in both March[5] and June through August.[5][18] The pollination syndrome is entomophily (insect-pollinated).[15]

Fruiting occurs mainly from the start of the summer wet season in July.[5] White-headed capuchins (Cebus capucinus) eat the fruit of S. pavoniana,[16] as does Cydia saltitans.[19] Occasionally military macaws (Ara militaris) will also eat the fruit.[20]

The leaf phenology is late-drought deciduous.[18]

The ello sphinx (Erinnyis ello) also feeds on S. pavoniana, and in turn can be parasitized by the braconid wasp Microplitis figueresi.[21]

Use by humans[edit]

Besides the seeds selling as novelty items, the Yaqui grate the unpeeled (and unparasitized) seeds turning them into a flour which is baked into a loaves for feast days.[13][12] The chuculi-buahuame,[12] or 'bread of hunger,' as it's called, is thought to provide a boost of energy.[13] An American entrepreneur in Havana once tried to sell the flour mixed with chicle to make an energizing gum, but was stopped over concern for accidentally introducing the moth to the island of Cuba.[12]

It is not known if this is a true pharmacological effect or a placebo effect, hoping that the observed jumping vigor of the seeds is transferred.[13] If a true biological effect is taking place, it would be similar to chewing coca leaves or drinking very strong coffee.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Müller Argoviensis, Johannes; de Candolle, Augustin Pyramus (1866). "Sebastiania. EUPH. HIPPOMANEÆ" (PDF). Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis, Sive, Enumeratio Contracta Ordinum Generum Specierumque Plantarum Huc Usque Cognitarium, Juxta Methodi Naturalis, Normas Digesta (in Latin). 15 (2): 1189. doi:10.5962/bhl.title.286. OCLC 3791986. Archived from the original on 29 July 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Sebastiania pavoniana (Müll.Arg.) Müll.Arg". The Plant List. 1.1. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d "Sebastiania pavoniana". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Robichaux, Robert Hall; Yetman, David A. (2000). The Tropical Deciduous Forest of Alamos: Biodiversity of a Threatened Ecosystem in Mexico (PDF). Tucson: University of Arizona Press. pp. 59, 81. ISBN 9780816519224. OCLC 42968002. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Steinmann, Victor W.; Felger, Richard S. (1997). "The Euphorbiaceae of Sonora, Mexico" (PDF). Aliso: A Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany. 16 (1): 1–71. doi:10.5642/aliso.19971601.07. ISSN 0013-8908. OCLC 451643301. S2CID 90332294. Archived from the original on 29 July 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Webster, Grady L. (October 1967). "The Genera of Euphorbiaceae in the Southeastern United States". Journal of the Arnold Arboretum. 48 (4): 386–387. doi:10.5962/p.185727. JSTOR 43782494. OCLC 3178505. S2CID 240326194.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Müller Argoviensis, Johannes (1863). von Schlechtendal, D. F. L. (ed.). "Euphorbiaceae. Vorläufige Mittheilungen aus dem für DeCandolle's Prodromus bestimmten Manuscript über diese Familie, von Dr. J. Müller (Müll. Arg.), Conservator des DeCandolle'schen Herbariums" (PDF). Linnaea: Ein Journal für die Botanik in Ihrem Ganzen Umfange (in Latin). 32: 106–107. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  8. ^ a b c V., D. (1891). "Wetenschappelijk bijblad: Plantkunde" [Scientific supplement: Botany] (PDF). Album der Natuur (in Dutch). 40 (1): 44–45. OCLC 945506638. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  9. ^ a b Lampe, Kenneth F. (1986). "Contact Dermatitis From Sonoran Desert Plants". Desert Plants. 8 (1). hdl:10150/609073. ISSN 0734-3434. OCLC 635722148.
  10. ^ Department of Agricultu re - Environmental Services Division (31 March 2016). "Arizona Administrative Code Title 3, Ch. 3" (PDF). Arizona Department of Agriculture. p. 49. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 August 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018. EUPHORBIACEAE Spurge Family... Sapium biloculare (Wats.) Pax–Mexican jumping-bean
  11. ^ a b Felger, Richard Stephen; Rutman, Susan; Taylor, Nathan Caleb (15 April 2015). "Ajo Peak to Tinajas Altas: A flora of southwestern Ari zona. Part 13. Eudicots: Euphorbiaceae" (PDF). Phytoneuron (26): 55. ISSN 2153-733X. OCLC 705933532. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Reko, Viktor A. (1949). Magische Gifte: Rausch- und Betäubungsmittel der Neuen Welt (in German) (Dritte auflage ed.). Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke. pp. 145–150.
  13. ^ a b c d e Pereira, Jayme Regallo (March 1945). Gomes da Cruz, Jayme P. (ed.). "Contribuição para o estudo das plantas alucinatórias particularmente a maconha (Cannabis sativa L.)" [Contribution Toward the Study of hallucination Producing Plants, Particularly of Maconha, Cannabis sativa, Known as Marihuana in the United States]. Revista da Flora Medicinal (in Portuguese). 12 (3): 108–111. ISSN 0370-484X. OCLC 802456693.
  14. ^ Griffith, Chuck (2005). "Dictionary of Botanical Epithets". Dictionary of Botanical Epithets. Archived from the original on 25 June 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2018. pavonius pavonia pavonium peacock like, blue or having an eye pavo pavon noun/m a peacock
  15. ^ a b c d e Hilje, Branko; Calvo-Alvarado, Julio; Jiménez-Rodríguez, César; Sánchez-Azofeifa, Arturo (23 March 2015). "Tree species composition, breeding systems, and pollination and dispersal syndromes in three forest successional stages in a tropical dry forest in Mesoamerica" (PDF). Tropical Conservation Science. 8 (1): 76–94. doi:10.1177/194008291500800109. ISSN 1940-0829. OCLC 5807396390. S2CID 88651313.
  16. ^ a b Melin, Amanda D.; Fedigan, Linda Marie; Hiramatsu, Chihiro; Kawamura, Shoji (22 September 2007). "Polymorphic color vision in white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus): Is there foraging niche divergence among phenotypes?" (PDF). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 62 (5): 663. doi:10.1007/s00265-007-0490-3. ISSN 1432-0762. OCLC 437741616. S2CID 13839857. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  17. ^ Dwyer, John D.; Spellman, David L. (April 1981). "A List of the Dicotyledoneae of Belize". Rhodora. 83 (834): 161–236. ISSN 0035-4902. JSTOR 23311007. OCLC 19880140. S. pavoniana Standl. D 12402, 12572
  18. ^ a b c d Borchert, Rolf; Meyer, Stefanie A.; Felger, Richard S.; Porter-Bolland, Luciana (September 2004). "Environmental control of flowering periodicity in Costa Rican and Mexican tropical dry forests" (PDF). Global Ecology and Biogeography. 13 (5): 424. doi:10.1111/j.1466-822X.2004.00111.x. ISSN 1466-822X. OCLC 5153614267. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  19. ^ Baker, Ed; Kitching, Ian J.; Beccaloni, George W.; Whitaker, Amoret; Dupont, Steen; Smith, Vincent S.; Noyes, John S. (2016-12-13). "Sebastiania pavoniana". HOSTS (Data Set). Natural History Museum. doi:10.5519/0060767. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  20. ^ Puebla-Olivares, Fernando; Salcedo-Hernández, Janitce Elizabeth; Figueroa-Esquivel, Elsa Margarita (2018). "El habillo ( Hura polyandra ) en la dieta de la guacamaya verde (Ara militaris)" [The possum wood ( Hura polyandra ) in the diet of the Military Macaw (Ara militaris)] (PDF). Huitzil, Revista Mexicana de Ornitología (in Spanish). 19 (2): 166. doi:10.28947/hrmo.2018.19.2.323. ISSN 1870-7459. OCLC 7586687537. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  21. ^ Janzen, D. H.; Walker, A. K.; Whitfield, J. B.; Delvare, G.; Gauld, I. D. (April 2003). "Host-specificity and hyperparasitoids of three new Costa Rican species of Microplitis Foerster (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Microgastrinae), parasitoids of sphingid caterpillars" (PDF). Journal of Hymenoptera Research. 12 (1): 51–72. ISSN 1070-9428. OCLC 815681518. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 December 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  22. ^ Humphreys, Kim; Darling, D. Christopher (21 August 2013). "Not looking where you are leaping: a novel method of oriented travel in the caterpillar Calindoea trifascialis (Moore) (Lepidoptera: Thyrididae)". Biology Letters. 9 (5): 20130397. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2013.0397. ISSN 1744-957X. OCLC 5145587411. PMC 3971676. PMID 23966594.
  23. ^ Marshall, Michael (18 August 2014). "Zoologger: The secret hop of the Californian flea seed". NewScientist. Archived from the original on 28 July 2018. Retrieved 27 July 2018.