I hated to have to take down the trees, but it was really interesting to watch Rene take down the cohune. We've had large cohunes fall during storms and have cut down the little new ones, but this is the first time I've watched them take down a larger tree. This one was young enough that it hadn't built a trunk yet. The base of the fronds went to the ground, but it was still about 3' in diameter.
Rene told me that he's taken down lots of cohunes, especially during the many years that he ran a survey crew, mapping out much of the jungle of Belize. He's hacked his way thru the bush in all districts, even on some of the cayes. Cohunes can be deadly, as the base of the fronds is a hiding place for scorpions and snakes. This one was easier for him because we've worked around so much, most of those critters have moved back into the bush.
The fascinating thing for me was to watch him cut out the heart of the palm. I don't know if this is like what you buy in jars as "heart of palm." Rene had to use an axe to cut down the cohune as well as to get to the heart. I was so surprised to see the size and consistency of the heart. It's very white, quite soft and spongy and the piece that Rene cut out was about 9" across and over 2' long. I ate a small piece and it was slightly sweet and quite good. He took it home to see if his mother, whose in her late 80's, would cook it.
This heart isn't a common food any more, but during the 30's when the hurricane nearly wiped out Belize, the cohune kept many of the local people alive. The most common use for it now is to make oil out of the nuts. What a fascinating tree.