Fancy some nuts?

Littlehampton Museum is home to many different types of objects. Often, we write about the stranger items on this blog series. This month we are looking at an interesting assortment of seed pods and nuts. Whilst they are fascinating to look at, the Museum team have had trouble identifying some of them. Much of our natural history collection was created when the Museum started in 1928, and at that time objects weren’t always recorded properly. This can cause problems for us now, as we struggle to interpret such interesting looking artefacts for our visitors without many solid facts. Nevertheless, we don’t want to hide them away just for ourselves. Here is a little about these rather odd-looking specimens:

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First up is this huge seed pod. It has been recorded simply as “seed pod from South America”, with a question mark next to the entry. It would appear the recorder at the time was also a bit confused! The pod is curved, and about 40cm long. It is rock hard due to its age, and is a muddy brown colour. The Museum team aren’t experts on plant specimens, but after some basic research it seems like this seed pod is an Entada gigas or a ‘sea bean’ pod, which can be found in South America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

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Here we have a very large rounded seed pod, complete with seeds inside. The lid to the pod doesn’t quite fit, but this may be because it has shrunk over the decades. We know very little about this amazing looking item, not even how we came to have it. This object is a great example of how important it is for modern museums to record objects properly, to ensure that future collections don’t have the same problems. In cases like this museums will often carry out some of their own research to try and shed some light on it. Sometimes however it is better left to an expert, who would be able to tell us exactly what this fascinating specimen is.

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Next up is something a little more familiar. Recorded as a “seed cob” with some “small sweet corn”, there is no other information. Although we cannot be sure, this is most likely to be a natural specimen from the UK. What we like about it is the missing corn on each end, making it look like it has been nibbled by a creature many years ago!

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Finally, we have a Brazil nut pod. Inside are the original Brazil nuts, which make a rattling sound when we handle the object. It is fascinating that they have lasted such a long time. This item has been recorded with its donor, a Mr. Twine who lived in Wick, and was given to the Museum in 1932. Unfortunately, the recorder didn’t take this opportunity to write down how Mr. Twine came to own such an unusual object, but it remains a great addition to the Museum’s natural history collection.

You can see these extraordinary items on display in the central case in the Museum’s Archaeology Gallery, where they will be on show throughout the summer break.