Friday, February 23, 2007

Damn, I'm Good!

About two or three years ago, I was munching on some jackfruit in my office when I realized that one of the seeds have protruding roots. I promptly planted the seed, not really hoping for fruit or anything, because the jackfruit tree can reach a height of 3-5 m in the wild and bear hundreds of heavy fruits. In fact, the jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, reaching 80 pounds in weight and up to 36 inches long and 20 inches in diameter.

The seed gave a nice little plant which I more or less neglected and left alone in a pot in a corner of my office. So imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago, a baby jackfruit started peeking out of the leaves. It looked like this:

Every day at the office, it was such a sweet torment watching the fruit grow bigger and bigger and praying that it wouldn't dry up and drop from the branch. I started reading up about the jackfruit. Apparently, the jackfruit tree bears both male and female flowers in separate flower-heads. What I thought was a baby fruit was actually a male flower. Male flower-heads are on new wood among the leaves or above the female. They are swollen, oblong, from an inch to four inches long and up to an inch wide at the widest part. When mature the head is covered with yellow pollen that falls rapidly after flowering. The female heads appear on short, stout twigs that emerge from the trunk and large branches, or even from the soil-covered base of very old trees. They look like the male heads but without pollen.

Of course I immediately bragged about this to my friends who were sharing my excitement and impatience. One of them informed me that, at her family orchard in Vietnam, when the jackfruit trees are in bloom, the workers would go to the trees and simply ask aloud for the number of fruits they expected the trees to bear, and allegedly, the trees would always comply.

So I stood in front of my tree and said loudly: «Hello jackfruit tree, this is your owner speaking. If it's not too much trouble, I would like you to produce four fruits please. Got it? Four fruits. Thank you!» [The reason is I only have three good friends, so I ordered one jackfruit for each of us.] Every few days, I would remind the tree of its duty, taking care not to annoy it by nagging too much.

Last week, the female flowers started appearing on the trunk, two of them. So now I have three male flowers and two females. The problem is one of the male flowers is already blooming and producing pollen, while the female flowers are still minuscule. I tried to collect the pollen in an envelope but it's hard to detach from the flower head, so I decided to leave it alone.

Now we'll see how Mother Nature is coordinating all this. My job is simply to water the tree, remind it of my expectations and wait for this:

Imagine though: a jackfruit tree producing fruit in Montreal, QC, Canada, in the heart of winter!!! I'm good or what!?!!! God damn!

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