April 4, 2005 2:41 PM   Subscribe

Why do the seeds of a green bean behave the way they do when the been is halved? May contain more information than dedicated carnivores can handle.

Last night, while waiting for the turkey to be done, we were starting on the green beans, and, because I was bored, I was splitting my green beans in half, lengthwise, by pulling so that they opened along the seams. I ate perhaps fifteen beans this way, and in every case, the seeds would adhere to the fleshy part of the pod in such a way that if the first seed went left, all odd-numbered seeds went left, and all even-numbered seeds went right. If the first bean went right, the opposite happened. I can think of no mechanism to cause this behavior. I would expect either all of the seeds to adhere to one side of the pod or for the seeds to adhere randomly to one side or the other. Anyone got a clue?
posted by anapestic to Food & Drink (4 answers total)
I've done the same thing with sugar snap peas and thought I detected the same pattern of even/odd "preference", but the more I split, the less there seemed to be a pattern. I got quite a few that did split at random. I think you were just inordinately lucky and were able to fibers along the seam in such a way as to produce this pattern.

I think the peas stick to whichever side ends up with a greater percentage of the seam fiber.
posted by pmbuko at 4:41 PM on April 4, 2005

... were able to split fibers along the seam ...
posted by pmbuko at 4:42 PM on April 4, 2005

Best answer: If I remember correctly, the fruits of a green bean plant (ie. the bean) are siliques. The pattern you observe is way the ovules are positioned in the fruit. As pmbuko says, they don't always form a perfect pattern, because not every ovule will be fertilized every time, so you sometimes see gaps in the pattern.
If you can find a botanical anatomy book in the library, there should be fairly good descriptions of what you're seeing.
posted by nprigoda at 5:48 PM on April 4, 2005

Sorry, what I meant to say was that the fruit (ie the bean pod). The bean is the seed, of course, not the fruit. Gah!!
posted by nprigoda at 5:49 PM on April 4, 2005

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