They have very fair wheat, the ear of which is two hand-breadths long and as big as a great bulrush, the stem or straw being almost as thick as a man’s little finger. The grains are white and round, shining like pearls that have lost their lustre, and about the size of our pease. Almost their whole substance turns to flour, leaving very little bran. The ear is inclosed in three blades, each about two inches broad, and longer than the ear; and in one of them I counted 260 grains of corn. By this fruitfulness, the sun seems in some measure to compensate for the trouble and distress produced by its excessive heat. Their drink is either water, or the juice which drops from cut branches of the palmito, a barren palm or date tree; to collect which they hang great gourds to the cut branches every evening, or set them on the ground under the trees, to receive the juice which issues during the night. Our people said that this juice tasted like whey, but sweeter and more pleasant. The branches of the palmito are cut every evening to obtain this juice, as the heat of the sun during the day dries up and sears over the wound. They have likewise large beans, as big as chesnuts, and very hard, having shells instead of husks or pods. While formerly describing the fruit containing the grains or Guinea pepper, called by the physicians grana paradisi, I remarked that they have holes through them, as in effect they have when brought to us; but I have been since informed, that these holes are made on purpose to put strings or twigs through, for hanging up the fruit to dry in the sun. This fruit grows on a plant which does not rise above eighteen inches or two feet above the ground.
At their coming home, the keels and bottoms of the ships were strangely overgrown with certain shells, two inches or more in length, as thick as they could stand, and so large that a man might put his thumb into their mouths. It is affirmed that a certain slimy substance grows in these shells, which falls afterwards into the sea, and is changed into the bird called barnacles. Similar shells have been seen on ships coming from Ireland, but these Irish barnacles do not exceed half an inch long. I saw the Primrose in dock, after her return from Guinea, having her bottom entirely covered over with these shells, which in my judgment must have greatly impeded her sailing. Their ships also were in many places eaten into by the worms called Bromas or Bissas, which are mentioned in the Decades. These worms creep between the planks, which they eat through in many places.
[Footnote 223: This is an old fable not worth confuting. The Barnacle goose or clakis of Willoughby, anas erythropus of Linnaeus, called likewise tree-goose, anciently supposed to be generated from drift wood, or rather from the lepas anatifera or multivalve shell, called barnacle, which is often found on the bottoms of ships.—See Pennant’s Brit. Zool. 4to. 1776. V. II. 488, and Vol. IV. 64.—E.]