Featured

Green Path (in)activity

When I began the blog, at the beginning of 2011, it quickly settled into a loose pattern of about six updates each month. That rate has dropped off recently because I have been busier than usual with other activities, and all I can do is apologise.
I will get back on track as soon as I can; meanwhile, the blog’s facebook page (see sidebar) will help to keep you up to date with environmental news.

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
Weevil on a frangipani branch

Continue reading “Weevil or beetle?”