Blue Java bananas come to fruition at last

Five years ago I swapped a sucker of my Ducasse bananas for a Blue Java sucker. I promptly put it in the ground and waited, and was disappointed, and waited, and was frustrated as detailed here.

I kept on waiting, however, and my patience has finally been rewarded – but only just. A trunk grew to a decent height, flowered and formed a fair-sized bunch which wasn’t taken by possums. Fortunately, it was close enough to maturity before the trunk collapsed a couple of weeks ago that the fruit ripened afterwards.

Its metre-tall sucker had died a few weeks earlier, and a small new sucker from that grew to about 30 cm and then died; not a success, then.

The Lady Finger suckers (from this long-established plantation) I have put into that patch have all died, too, whereas a couple of them I have put into pots are doing okay, so maybe the location is part of the problem. I will try again elsewhere with a chunk of the root.

Blue java bananas
Immature Blue Java bananas (foreground) contrasting with similarly immature Ducasse
Blue java bananas
Success! The Blue Java fruit when involuntarily harvested

The fruit are big! They are not as long a a Cavendish but they are so fat that one is more than enough for a snack. I suspect that the fatness is responsible for a peculiarity of the texture, i.e., the centre of the fruit is still quite firm when the outside is soft-ripe.

Blue java bananas
Three just-ripe and one nearly-ripe fruit with an apple for comparison

Weevil or beetle?

Let me begin by admitting that my title question is misleading: weevils are different from most beetles in a very recognisable way but they are in fact still beetles, a family within the order Coleoptera which includes longicorns, elephant beetles and all the others.

Wikipedia informs us that Curculionidae, “the “true” weevils (or “snout beetles”) … are one of the largest animal families, with 6,800 genera and 83,000 species described worldwide.” It’s not surprising, then, that, “with so many species, a spirited debate exists about the relationships between subfamilies and genera,” (Wikipedia’s polite way of saying that the experts are still arguing).

CSIRO’s invaluable site says that weevils are, “Highly variable in form, but usually moderately to strongly convex, robust, heavily sclerotised and often clothed with scales or bristles. Head always more or less produced [i.e. extended] in front of eyes to form a rostrum, which is usually much longer than broad; antennae always geniculate [elbowed] with long scape and more or less compact club.” Many of those features can be seen in my photos of an individual I found in my garden recently:

Weevil on a frangipani branch

Continue reading “Weevil or beetle?”

Feng Shui in the Australian tropics – does it make any sense?

Wikipedia, normally a reliable first-stop-shop for information, judges Feng Shui harshly, calling it a “pseudo-science” before going on to say, more factually, “The term feng shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English. … The feng shui practice discusses architecture in terms of “invisible forces” that bind the universe, earth, and humanity together, known as qi [chi]. Historically, feng shui was widely used to orient buildings—often spiritually significant structures such as tombs, but also dwellings and other structures—in an auspicious manner. Depending on the particular style of feng shui being used, an auspicious site could be determined by reference to local features such as bodies of water, or stars or the compass.”

Feng shui in the West has a distinctly New Age “spiritual” flavour and seems to have lost touch almost entirely with its origins; but its origins are the folk wisdom of people who observed nature closely for their very survival, and I wondered whether those foundations could be retrieved and applied here in Townsville in the twenty-first century. Continue reading “Feng Shui in the Australian tropics – does it make any sense?”