Of their Fruits, and Trees
[Great variety of Fruits, and delicious.] 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. [The best Fruits, where-ever they grow, reserved for the King.] 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.
[Betel-Nuts.] 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 [The Trees.] Trees. They are very streight and tall, few bigger than the calf of a mans Leg. [The Fruit.] 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.] 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