Banana, Or Plantain. An invaluable tropical fruit-tree. It serves the Indians for bread, and grows to the height of 15 or 20 feet. At the top of the stalk, leaves expand from six to eight feet long, and two to three feet broad, which grow so quick that their expansion may be discerned.

Banana Or Plantain 336

The flower forms a spike in the centre, often nearly four feet long and nodding on one side. The fruit, or plantains, are twelve inches long and two in diameter; at first green, and afterwards of a pale yellow. The spikes of fruit weigh frow 30 to 40 pounds. They are generally cut before ripe, the green stud pulled off, and the heart roasted, and served at table as bread. The negroes almost live upon them, and they serve, likewise, to fatten all domestic animals. Every other part of the tree is useful, and the leaves are used as napkins and table-cloths. Of another sort, the fruit is rounder and more lucious, and, when ripe, eaten raw or fried in slices, is relished by all ranks in the West Indies. It is only perennial in its roots, for the stalk dies down to the ground every year; but, by cutting them down, suckers rise from the root, and there is a constant succession of fruit all the year.