Years ago, I lived next to a grove of bananas in Togo. Bananas are cool plants. Quite unlike trees, more like giant grass with thick, moist, fleshy stalks and a handfull of thick, green leaves jutting out from the tip. The fruit starts with a thick, purple pod - the flower, dangling from a single branch-like growth from the tip of the stalk. Above the pod, the fruit grows in a thick, heavy bunch, away from the stem and the flower, out and upwards. Google for pictures
With a squeeky, spongy sound one of the farmers drives the heavy blade of his coupcoup into the moist layered stalks. The stalks don't offer much resistance. A couple of well-delivered cuts with the coupcoup fell a pretty imposing 20 foot plant.
Cutting the plant is the only way for humans to get the fruit. Mostly the fruit is cut green, just a few days short of turning yellow, so that the fall and transport does not damage it. However, the fruit that is allowed to ripen on the plant is by far the sweetest and most delicious. Timing is important, though - the fruit has to be cut down before the fruitbats get it.
©2002 Jürgen Henn
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