RSS Feed


Of their Fruits, and Trees

Of Fruits here are great plenty and variety, and far more might be if they did esteem or nourish them. Pleasant Fruits to eat ripe they care not at all to do, They look only after those that may fill the Belly, and satisfie their hunger when their Corn is spent, or to make it go the further. These onely they plant, the other Fruits of Pleasure plant themselves, the seeds of the ripe Fruits shedding and falling on the ground naturally spring up again. They have all Fruits that grow in India. Most sorts of these delicious Fruits they gather before they be ripe, and boyl them to make Carrees, to use the Portuguez word that is somewhat to eat with and relish their Rice. But wheresoever there is any Fruit better than ordinary, the Ponudecarso, or Officers of the Countrey, will tie a string about the Tree in the Kings Name with three knots on the end thereof, and then, no man,not the Owner himself, dares presume under pain of some great punishment, if not death, to touch them. And when they are ripe, they are wrapped in white cloth, and carried to him who is Governour of that Countrey wherein they grow: and if they be without any defect or blemish, then being wrapped up again in white cloth, he presents them to the King. But the owner in whose Ground they grow is paid nothing at all for them: it is well if he be not compelled to carry them himself into the bargain unto the King, be it never so far. These are Reasons why the People regard not to plant more than just to keep them alive.

But to specifie some of the chief of the Fruits in request among them, I begin with their Betel-Nuts, the Trees that bear them grow only on the South and West sides of this Island. They do not grow wild, they are only in their Towns, and there like unto Woods, without any inclosures to distinguish one mans Trees from anothers; but by marks of great Trees, Hummacks or Rocks each man knows his own. They plant them not, but the Nuts being ripe fall down in the grass and so grow up to Trees.They are very streight and tall, few bigger than the calf of a man’s leg.  The nuts grow in bunches at the top, and being ripe look red and very lovely like a pleasing Fruit. When they gather them, they lay them in heaps until the shell be somewhat rotted, and then dry them in the Sun, and afterwards shell them with a sharp stick one and one at a time. These trees will yield some 500, some a 1000, some 1500 Nuts, and some but three or four hundred. They bear but once in the Year generally, but commonly there are green Nuts enough to eat all the Year long. The leaves of it are somewhat like those of a Coker-Nut Tree, they are five or six foot long, and have other lesser leaves growing out of the sides of them, like the feathers on each side of a quill. The Chingulays call the large leaves the boughs, and the leaves on the sides, the leaves. They fall off every Year, and the skin upon which they grow, with them. These skins grow upon the body of the Tree, and the leaves grow out on them. They also clap about the buds or blossoms which bear the Nuts, and as the buds swell, so this skin-cover gives way to them, till at length it falls quite off with the great leaf on it. It is somewhat like unto Leather, and of great use unto the Countrey People. It serves them instead of Basons to eat their Rice in, and when they go a Journey to tie up their Provisions: For in these skins or leaves they can tie up any liquid substance as Oyl or water, doubling it in the middle, and rowling it in the two sides, almost like a purse. For bigness they are according to the Trees, some bigger, some less, ordinarily they are about two foot length, and a foot and an half in breadth. In this Countrey are no Inns to go to, and therefore their manner when they Travel is, to carry ready dressed what provisions they can, which they make up in these leaves. The Trees within have onely a kind of pith, and will split from one end to the other, the wood is hard and very strong; they use it for Laths for their Houses, and also for Rails for their Hedges, which are only stakes struck in the ground, and rails tyed along with rattans, or other withs growing in the Woods. Money is not very plentiful in this Land, but by means of these Nuts, which is a great Commodity to carry to the Coasts of Cormandel, they furnish themselves with all things they want. The common price of Nuts, when there was a Trade, as there was when I came first on this Land, is 20000 for one Doller; but now they ly and grow, or rot on the ground under the Trees. Some of these Nuts do differ much from others in their operation, having this effect, that they will make people drunk and giddy-headed, and give them some stools, if they eat them green.

There is another Fruit, which we call Jacks; the Inhabitants when they are young call them Polos, before they be full ripe Cose; and when ripe, Warracha or Vellas; But with this difference, the Warracha is hard, but the Vellas as soft as pap, both looking alike to the eye no difference; but they are distinct Trees. These are a great help to the People, and a great part of their Food. They grow upon a large Tree, the Fruit is as big as a good Peck loaf, the outside prickly like an Hedg-hog, and of a greenish colour; there are in them Seeds or Kernels, or Eggs as the Chingulayes call them, which lie dispersed in the Fruit like Seeds in a Cucumber. They usually gather them before they be full ripe, boreing an hole in them, and feeling of the Kernel, they know if they be ripe enough for their purpose. Then being cut in pieces they boil them, and eat to save Rice and fill their Bellies; they eat them as we would do Turnips or Cabbage, and tast and smell much like the latter: one may suffice six or seven men. When they are ripe they are sweet and good to eat raw. The Kernels do very much resemble Chesnuts both in colour and tast, and are almost as good: the poor people will boyl them or roast them in the embers, there being usually a good heap of them lying in a corner by the fire side; and when they go a Journey, they will put them in a bag for their Provisions by the way. One Jack may contain three pints or two quarts of these seeds or kernels. When they cut these Jacks, there comes running out a white thick substance like tar, and will stick just like Birdlime, which the Boyes make use of to catch Birds, which they call Cola, or bloud of the Cos. Some will mix this with the flower of Rice, and it will eat like Eggs.

Another Fruit there is which I never saw in any other Parts of India, they call it Jombo. In tast it is like to an Apple, full of Juice, and pleasant to the Palate, and not unwholsom to the Body, and to the Eye no Fruit more amiable, being white, and delicately coloured with red, as if it were painted.

Also in the wild Woods are several sorts of pretty Fruits, as Murros, round in shape, and as big as a Cherry, and sweet to the tast; Dongs, nearest like to a black Cherry. Ambelo’s like to Barberries. Carolla cabella, Cabela pooke, and Polla’s, these are like to little Plums, and very well tasted. Paragidde, like to our Pears, and many more such like Fruits.

Here are also, of Indian Fruits, Coker-nuts; Plantins also and Banana’s of divers and sundry sorts, which are distinguished by the tast as well as by the names; rare sweet Oranges and sower ones, Limes but no Lemons, such as ours are; Pautaurings, in tast all one with a Lemon, but much bigger than a mans two fists, right Citrons, and a small sort of sweet Oranges. Here are several other sorts of Lemons, and Oranges, Mangoes of several sorts, and some very good and sweet to eat. In this sort of Fruit the King much delights, and hath them brought to him from all Parts of the Island. Pine-Apples also grow there, Sugar Canes, Water-Melons, Pomegranates, Grapes both black and white, Mirablins, Codjeu’s, and several other.

There are three other Trees that must not here be omitted; Which tho they bear no eatable Fruit, yet the Leaves of the one, and the Juice of the other, and the Bark of the third are very renowned, and of great benefit.

The manner of their sheltring themselvs from the Raine by the Tolipat leafe.

The first is the Tallipot; It is as big and tall as a Ships Mast, and very streight, bearing only Leaves: which are of great use and benefit to this People; one single Leaf being so broad and large, that it will cover some fifteen or twenty men, and keep them dry when it rains. The leaf being dryed is very strong, and limber and most wonderfully made for mens Convenience to carry along with them; for tho this leaf be thus broad when it is open, yet it will fold close like a Ladies Fan, and then it is no bigger than a mans arm. It is wonderful light, they cut them into pieces, and carry them in their hands. The whole leaf spread is round almost like a Circle, but being cut in pieces for use are near like unto a Triangle: They lay them upon their heads as they travel with the peaked end foremost, which is convenient to make their way thro the Boughs and Thickets. When the Sun is vehement hot they use them to shade themselves from the heat. Souldiers all carry them; for besides the benefit of keeping them dry in case it rain upon the march, these leaves make their Tents to ly under in the Night. A marvelous Mercy which Almighty God hath bestowed upon this poor and naked People in this Rainy Country! one of these I brought with me into England, and you have it described in the Figure. These Leaves all grow on the top of the Tree after the manner of a Coker. It bears no kind of Fruit until the last year of its life, and then it comes out on the top, and spreads abroad in great branches, all full first of yellow blossoms, most lovely and beautiful to behold, but smell very strong, and then it comes to a Fruit round and very hard, as big as our largest Cherries, but good only for seed to set: and tho this Tree bears but once, it makes amends, bearing such great abundance, that one Tree will yield seed enough for a Countrey. If these Trees stand near any houses, the smell of the blossoms so much annoyes them, that they regarding not the seed, forthwith cut them down. This Tree is within the pith only which is very good to eat if they cut the Tree down before it runs to seed. They beat it in Mortars to Flower, and bake Cakes of it; which tast much like to white bread. It serves them instead of Corn before their Harvest be ripe.

The next Tree is the Kettule. It groweth streight, but not so tall or big as a Coker-Nut-Tree; the inside nothing but a white Pith, as the former. It yieldeth a sort of Liquor, which they call Tellegie: it is rarely sweet and pleasing to the Pallate, and as wholsom to the Body, but no stronger than water. They take it down from the Tree twice, and from some good Trees thrice, in a day. An ordinary Tree will yield some three, some four Gallons in a day, some more and some less. The which Liquor they boyl and make a kind of brown Sugar, called Jaggory; but if they will use their skill, they can make it as white as the second best Sugar: and for any use it is but little inferior to ordinary Sugar. The manner how they take this Liquor from the Tree is thus; When the Tree is come to maturity, first out of the very top there cometh out a bud, which if they let it grow, will bear a round fruit, which is the seed it yieldeth, but is only good to set for encrease. This bud they cut and prepare, by putting to it several sorts of things, as Salt, Pepper, Lemons, Garlick, Leaves, &c. which keeps it at a stand, and suffers it not to ripen. So they daily cut off a thin slice off the end, and the Liquor drops down in a Pot, which they hang to catch it.

It bears a leaf like to that of a Betel-Nut-Tree, which is fastned to a Skin as the Betel-Nut Leaves were, onely this Skin is hard and stubborn like a piece of Board: the Skin is all full of strings as strong as Wyer; they use them to make Ropes withal. As long as the Tree is growing the leaves shed; but when the Tree is come to its full growth, they remain many years upon the Tree before they fall; and when they fall, there are no new ones come again: The top-bud, as it ripens and withers, other buds come out lower and lower every Year till they come to the bottom of the Boughs, and then it hath done bearing, and so may stand seven or ten years, and then dyeth.

The Wood of this Tree is not above three inches thick, mighty strong and hard to cut in two, but very apt to split from top to bottom; a very heavy wood, they make pestles of it to beat their Rice with; the colour black, but looks not like natural wood, but as if it were composed of divers pieces. The budds of this Tree, as also of the Coker, and Betel Nut-Tree, are excellent in tast, resembling Walnuts or Almonds.

I proceed to the third Tree, which is the Cinnamon, in their Language Corunda-gauhah. It grows wild in the Woods as other Trees, and by them no more esteemed; It is most on the West side of the great River Mavela-gonga. It is much as plenty as Hazel in England in some places a great deal, in some little, and in some none at all. The Trees are not very great, but sizable. The Cinnamon is the The.Bark or Rind, when it is on the Tree it looks whitish. They scrape it and pull it off and dry it in the Sun: they take it onely from off the smaller Trees, altho the Bark of the greater is as sweet to the smell and as strong to the tast. The Wood has no smell, in colour white, and soft like Fir. Which for any use they cut down, favouring them no more than other wild Trees in the Wood. The Leaf much resembleth the Laurel both in colour and thickness; the difference is, whereas the Laurel hath but one strait rib throughout, whereon the green spreads it self on each sides, the Cinnamon hath three by which the Leaf stretches forth it self. When the young leaves come out they look purely red like scarlet: Break or bruise them, and they will smell more like Cloves than Cinnamon. It bears a .Fruit, which is ripe in September, much like an Acorn, but smaller, it neither tasts nor smells much like the Bark, but being boyled in water, it will yield an Oyl swimming on the top, which when cold is as hard as tallow and as white; and smelleth excellently well. They use it for Oyntments for Aches and Pains, and to burn in Lamps to give light in their houses: but they make no Candles of it, neither are any Candles used by any but the King.

Here are many sorts of Trees that bear Berries to make Oyl of, both in the Woods and Gardens, but not eatable, but used only for their Lamps.

There are other Trees remarkable either for their strangeness, or use, or both. Of these I shall mention a few.

The Orula, a Tree as big as an Apple-Tree, bears a Berry somewhat like an Olive, but sharper at each end, its Skin is of a reddish green colour, which covereth an hard stone. They make use of it for Physic in Purges; and also to dy black colour: Which they do after this manner; They take the fruit and beat it to pieces in Mortars, and put it thus beaten into water; and after it has been soaking a day or two, it changeth the water, that it looks like Beer. Then they dip their cloth in it, or what they mean to dy, and dry it in the Sun. And then they dip it in black mud, and so let it ly about an hour, then take it and wash it in water: and now it will appear of a pale black. Then being dry, they dip it again into the aforesaid Dy, and it becomes a very good black.

Another use there is of this water. It is this: Let any rusty Iron ly a whole night in it, and it will become bright; and the water look black like Ink, insomuch that men may write with it. These Trees grow but in some Parts of the Land, and nothing near so plentiful as Cinnamon. The Berries the Drugsters in the City there, do sell in their Shops.

The Dounekaia gauhah, a shrub, bears leaves as broad as two fingers, and six or eight foot long, on both sides of them set full of Thorns, and a streak of Thorns runs thro the middle. These leaves they split to weave Matts withal. The Tree bears a bud above a span long, tapering somewhat like a Sugar-loaf. Leaves cover this bud folding it about, like the leaves of a Cabbage. Which leaves smell rarely sweet, and look of a lovely yellow colour like gold. This bud blowes into divers bunches of Flowers, spreading it self open like a Plume of Feathers, each Flower whitish, but very small. The Roots of this shrub they use for Ropes, splitting them into Thongs, and then making them into Ropes.

The Capita gauhah, is a shrub never bigger than a mans arm. The Wood, Rind and Leaves have all a Physical smell; and they do sometimes make use of it for Physic. The Leaf is of a bright green, roundish, rough, and as big as the palm of an hand. No sort of Cattel will eat it, no, not the Goats, that will sometimes brouze upon rank poyson. There is abundance of these Trees every where, and they grow in all Countreys, but in Ouvah. And this is supposed to be the cause, that the Ouvah Cattle dy, when they are brought thence to any other Country. They attribute it to the smell of this Tree, of such a venomous nature it is to Beasts. And therefore to destroy their Fleas, or to keep their houses clear of them, they sweep them with Brooms made of this shrub. ’Tis excellent good for firing, and will burn when it is green. There are no other coals the Goldsmiths use, but what are made of this wood.

Rattans grow in great abundance upon this Island. They run like Honey-suckles either upon the Ground, or up Trees, as it happens, near Twenty fathom in length. There is a kind of a shell or skin grows over the Rattan, and encloseth it round. Which serves for a Case to cover and defend it, when tender. This Skin is so full of prickles and thorns, that you cannot touch it. As the Rattan growes longer and stronger, this Case growes ripe, and falls off prickles and shell and all.

It bears fruit in clusters just like bunches of Grapes, and as big. Every particular Berry is covered with a husk like a Gooseberry, which is soft, yellow and scaly, like the scales of a Fish, hansome to look upon. This husk being cracked and broken, within grows a Plum of a whitish colour: within the Plum a stone, having meat about it. The people gather and boyl them to make sour pottage to quench the thirst.

Canes grow just like Rattans, and bear a fruit like them. The difference onely is, that the Canes are larger

The Tree that bears the Betel-leaf, which is so much loved and eaten in these parts, growes like Ivy, twining about Trees, or Poles, which they stick in the ground, for it to run up by: and as the Betel growes, the Poles grow also. The form of the Leaf is longish, the end somewhat sharp, broadest next to the stalk, of a bright green, very smooth, just like a Pepper leaf, onely different in the colour, the Pepper leaf being of a dark green. It bears a fruit just like long Pepper, but not good for seed, for it falls off and rots upon the ground. But when they are minded to propagate it, they plant the spriggs, which will grow.

I shall mention but one Tree more as famous and highly set by as any of the rest, if not more, tho it bear no fruit, the benefit consisting chiefly in the Holiness of it. This Tree they call Bo-gauhah; we, the God-tree. It is very great and spreading, the Leaves always shake like an Asp. They have a very great veneration for these Trees, worshipping them; upon a Tradition, That the Buddou, a great God among them, when he was upon the Earth, did use to sit under this kind of Trees. There are many of these Trees, which they plant all the Land over, and have more care of, than of any other. They pave round under them like a Key, sweep often under them to keep them clean; they light Lamps, and set up their Images under them: and a stone Table is placed under some of them to lay their Sacrifices on. They set them every where in Towns and High wayes, where any convenient places are: they serve also for shade to Travellers. They will also set them in memorial of persons deceased, to wit, there, where their Bodies were burnt. It is held meritorious to plant them, which, they say, he that does, shall dy within a short while after, and go to Heaven: But the oldest men onely that are nearest death in the course of Nature, do plant them, and none else; the younger sort desiring to live a little longer in this World before they go to the other.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: