World’s largest grass fruit
When I came across a 17g grass seed in data from Kew’s Seed Information Database, I initially threw it out as a mistake. It’s over 60 times the weight of the next largest seed (maize). So, having realised my mistake, I think that the fruit in question deserves a post.
In fact, it’s a species of bamboo, Melocanna baccifera, from the Orient. It has various common names; I’ll use ‘pear bamboo’. Another fascinating thing about it is that it only sets seed after 48 years, and then it dies off.
Unfortunately, that has some rather nasty consequences. All the pear bamboo across a huge area set seed at the same time, a strategy to swamp predators with food so that some must be left. Their predators are rats, and they breed quickly, building up numbers until the food runs out, whereupon they turn on crops, causing food shortages. The whole phenomenon is called ‘mautam’, and last took place in 2006.