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Catalogue of plants
Catalogue of plants (continued)
E awharra. Pandanus-tectorius.
This tree generally grows on the sandy hillocks by the sea-side, and is found in great plenty on all the low islands; the leaves are long, like those of sedge, sawed on the edge; the flowers are male and female, growing upon different trees; those of the male-flower smell very sweet; and, of the bractea of them, which are white, they make a sort of garlands to put round their heads; the fruit is orange colour, and as big as one’s head, consisting of a congeries of small cones, like those of the Anana, or Pine-apple, which they much resemble: the bottom of these cones, sucked when full ripe, yield a flat insipid sweetness, and are eaten by the children; but the chief use of this tree is in the leaves, which, when plucked and dried, make excellent thatching for their houses, and various sorts of mats and baskets. This is the Palmetto of the eastern voyagers.
E mattee. Ficus-tinctoria.
The figs of this tree are one of the chief ingredients in their red-dye for their garments: when they use them they nip or bite off the stalk close to the fruit, at which time a small drop of milky juice issues out; this they either shake upon the tow-leaves, used in this dye, or else into a cocoa-nut shell, with a little water, or cocoa-nut milk, and then dip the leaves into it, which they roll up in a small bundle, and work or squeeze them between the palm and their fingers, till the red colour is produced by the mixture of the two juices; but, what is very odd, these leaves being beaten in a mortar, and the juice taken from them and mixed with the fig-milk, will not produce the same colour. Of the bark of this tree very good twine is made, which is of particular use for making of seins, and other nets.
This tree is remarkable on account of its trunk, which grows to an enormous size, by the branches hanging down, and taking root again, which makes a very grotesque figure. Of the bark of young plants, raised on purpose, they make a sort of cloth, naturally of a russet-hue, which they call Ora, being worn in the mornings, and much valued by them, especially that which is beaten very fine and thin.
E toee. Zezyphoides-argentea.
The wood of this tree they make use of for various purposes, such as sterns of canoes, heightening boards for ditto, and beams to beat their cloth upon.
E apeeree. Dodonaea-viscosa.
The wood of this tree, which is very tough, serves to make a particular sort of weapon, which they carry in their hand when they dive after sharks, and other large fish.
E tive. Dracontium polyphyllum.
The root of this is used to make a jelly like the Peea, but is not near so good.
This is the well-known tropical fruit called Plantains, and Bananas, of which there is a great variety in these islands: they reckon more than twenty sorts which differ in shape and taste; some of these are for eating raw, and others best boiled, and will serve instead of bread: they plant them in a rich soil, and take great pains in their cultivation.
This is another sort of Plantains, which generally grow wild in the mountains, and sometimes are planted by them; they are far inferior to the last, have a considerable astringency, and eat best boiled or roasted. There are four different sorts, and the leaves of this and the last, serve to put victuals upon; and the rind of the trunk to make a sort of baskets called Papa-meiya.
This palm, the fruit of which is so well known in all places within the tropics, seems to be a native of these islands, being found every where in the greatest plenty, and and in the greatest perfection, especially on the two low islands, called by them Motoos: these are many of them uninhabited, and are resorted to for the sake of the cocoa-nuts, which grow to a very great size on these islands; they love a sandy soil, and thrive much near the sea-side on the rising of the hills: they are smaller, and later in growth; they begin to bear when they are about ten feet high, and yield fruit several times in the year, and continue growing till they are so very tall, that they, by far, overtop all the rest of the trees: the leaves grow all at the top, from which the fruit hangs in several clusters of twenty or thirty, so enormously heavy, it is amazing how the slender stem of this tree can support them: when they have a mind to gather any for present use, they send up a boy who ties his feet together with a string, and vaults up to the top with great ease; when there, he gets them off the stalk by screwing them round, and then flings them down, taking care to give them a twirl first, otherwise they would fall to the ground with such force, from such a height, as would split them, and lose all the liquor. When they have a mind to gather the whole bunch, they cut it off, and lower it down with a rope; the way of opening them for present use is with their teeth, with which they pull off the outer rind, and then break the shell with a stone, but when they have many to peel, they do it by driving them upon a pointed stick, which is fixed in the ground for that purpose. Some sorts of these nuts will not keep at all; and other sorts, when pulled ripe, and properly dried and cured, will keep good a whole year: upon these racemi, or bunches, are ripe fruit, those that are half ripe, and others just set at the same time. The uses of this tree are many to the islanders of the south seas; the fruit, when half ripe, yields about a pint to a quart of one of the most refreshing and agreeable liquors in nature: this delicious beverage they often put amongst their pastes and puddings, and delight much to wash their mouth and hands with a little of it; the shell is, at this time, very soft, and is often eaten together with a little of the rind, but in no great Quantities, it being apt to occasion costiveness; as the fruit grows older, the milk turns thicker, more luscious, and wastes away; the kernel begins to form round the edge, like a white transparent jelly, and is very nice eating in this state. When it is ripe, the kernel is hard and white, about half an inch thick, and eats as well as a good nut; but the liquor is very indifferent, and, in a little time, wastes away intirely; of the kernel they make two sorts of puddings, called Poe, and Etooó, and eat it roasted alone, they also make a sauce for fish of it, called Taiyero, by steeping steeping the kernel in sea-water, and often shaking it, till it is almost dissolved; but the greatest quantity is used in making monoe, or oil, to anoint their hair; for this purpose they grate the kernel very small, then put it into a wooden tray, or trough, cover it, and set it in the shade, and, as the oil falls to the edges, they take it up with a shell, and put it into a calabash for use; it smells very rank, for which reason they put it into a quantity of scented woods and plants; but after all it smells very heavy, and is apt to give an European the head-ach. The shell is used for their drinking cups, vessels to hold water, and to put their victuals in; and, for this purpose, they make them smooth by rubbing them with coral. The shell of the ripe ones is black, and the others brownish white; the outer-rind, after being soaked in water, and well beaten, is drawn out into threads, of which they make variety of plaited-line for girdles, to frap their flutes, for slinging their calabashes, and has the quality of not rotting with salt-water: with this stuff they also calk their canoes; and, in the East-Indies, they make cables of it; of the leaves they make bonnets, and baskets to put their bread-fruit and apples in: the liber of the young leaves, which are very thin and transparent, they tie up in bunches, and stick in their hair by way of ornament: the brown skin, which covers the leaf, before it is unfolded, serves also for various purposes; and the wood of this tree answers all other common purposes very well.
© Derived from the London 1773 edition printed for Stanfield Parkinson, pages 46 - 49, 2004
Published by South Seas, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher
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