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Old 09-28-2007, 09:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

My co-worker lives in south Sacramento, CA.

He has these growing in his backyard and would like to know what kind they were. Can anyone here help?

They seem to be about 10-12 feet tall at the P-stem. There is one flower on each mat. Old flowering stems have not been cut after flowering. There appeared to be only one or two cut P-stems per mat.








He said they were there when he moved in 6 years ago. The fruit only gets to about 2-3" long. He barely waters them with the lawn sprinkler and no deep watering (could explain the small inedible fruit). He does nothing to protect them in winter and just basically lets them do what they want.

By the way, he gave me 2 pups.

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Old 09-28-2007, 10:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

More like regular but very skinny Orinoco at first glance. If they just bloomed, there is little chance of any significantly-filled fruits.

That clump is an excellent example of WHAT NOT TO DO with your banana clump. He would really be way better off if only he thins out each clump to maximum of 4 plants, cut to the ground similar sized pups, leaving only one of each size group until you have just 4 plants maximum per clump. Then fertilize heavily with complete fertilizer in mid-spring, and every 2 weeks thereafter. Always cut back to the ground the extra pups. I don't recommend digging them out unless no one's in bloom. That would just be my style.

That way, the bananas become healthier and stouter and he'll have bigger fruits, and big chance of having to enjoy real fruits earlier.
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Old 09-28-2007, 11:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

But for now, don't remove any leaves, do not cut back to the ground or whatever, just let them be. You would need all the mass and organic covers to protect them from the winter. Come spring time, tell him to thin it out by cutting to the ground redundant sized pups, leaving only a maximum of about 4 per clump.

But of course, if that is the way he simply likes his banana clumps, there is not much we can do about it. Depends really on his objectives of having bananas in his yard, and I truly respect that for anyone that may have different growing objectives than me.
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Old 10-04-2007, 01:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

Thank you Joe. I have passed on the care instructions and I think he can get some nice fruit next year. I wish he had told me about his mats earlier in the year...
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Old 10-04-2007, 02:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

That is Musa balbisiana, a wild species, so it will not produce edible fruit no matter how well it is taken care of.
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Old 10-04-2007, 04:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

Musa Balbisiana; Exactly what I thought too. The leaf shape, black blotches on the yellowish stems' shoulders, upright leaves, and the flower made me think it would be balbisiana.

These are said to show variable hardiness, but most of them rot during winter in my climate. There is however a stool of balbisiana growing happily in Cologne, Germany.

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Old 10-04-2007, 04:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

Mike, when he does have fruit, I can sample them for myself before putting the final judgement as to its edibility. As far as I know, the purely M. balbisiana have not been planted that much in California backyards. It was available through the internet a few years back, and it seems that the mat has been a lot longer than when M. balbisiana became widely available online. Of course there is that possibility that M. balbisiana was there ahead of the availability from the internet and no one knew about it.
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Old 10-04-2007, 05:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

I saw many very large old stands of M. balbisiana in California, I thought it to be rather common there. M. balbisiana is very easy to identify by its persistant bracts that hang on the to rachis even when they dry, also you can see lots of pollen on the male flowers, something which is absent in most edible bananas (especially triploids which are most common).
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Old 10-04-2007, 05:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

I have to agree with Gabe that there are stands of that same plant all over the place in Cali, at least in So Cal anyway. I can see two huge stands from my house on separate properties!
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Old 10-04-2007, 09:12 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Bananas Brindando Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

I think Gabe went to Banana college. Sounds like he knows his stuff!!
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:39 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

I am a see and taste is to believe and always open to other possibilities. I am not questioning what it is for now, but to see if the fruits are edible or not.

There are times that I have pointed out that even the best experts in the world to be wrong in their field, often questioning established knowledge and practices, but most of the time am also supporting them based on other evidences.

Keep an open mind for other possibilities. It might be something else if not a sport mutation of a known type.
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Old 10-05-2007, 12:02 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

Gabe,

The flower sure looks like the seeded banana that I have.
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Old 10-05-2007, 01:03 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

John,
that is exactly the one you have, I remember it very well from my visit.
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Old 10-05-2007, 03:32 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

We have a very seeded banana in the Philippines called the "pakol" from another dialect. While it is temendously seeded, it is quite edible and sweet. The seeds are sometimes dried, grounded up and used as condiments in other regions of the country. I have used it to make banana vinegar.
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Old 10-05-2007, 03:58 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

There is always a debate between what is and isn't edible, if we go with the literal, most basic meaning of the word, then every banana in the world makes an edible fruit, as none of them will harm you, and you can eat them and use them in different ways for consumption.

However, in order to maintain the difference between normal wild bananas, and those special cultivated types which have the all-important parthenocarpic (forming fruit without pollination, thus without seeds) trait, the term "edible" is only applied to the cultivated, parthenocarpic varieties. Not wild, seeded types. The distinction between these two groups (albeit the borders can be fuzzy at times) of bananas is very important to recognize and the term "edible" is this context is intended to apply only to cultivated, non-seeded, parthenocarpic bananas. For if seeds were forever present in bananas, they would surely not be anywhere near the scale of cultivation as a food crop as they are today.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:27 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Drummer Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

Told ya, He went to Banana college.
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Old 10-05-2007, 09:30 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

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Originally Posted by Gabe15 View Post
There is always a debate between what is and isn't edible, if we go with the literal, most basic meaning of the word, then every banana in the world makes an edible fruit, as none of them will harm you, and you can eat them and use them in different ways for consumption.
It will still "boil" down to what we consider a banana. If we define them to be all members of the the Musa genus, I've read that some of them can be really nasty to some people as we could have some reations to the sap, perhaps the seeds of some species.

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However, in order to maintain the difference between normal wild bananas, and those special cultivated types which have the all-important parthenocarpic (forming fruit without pollination, thus without seeds) trait, the term "edible" is only applied to the cultivated, parthenocarpic varieties, not wild, seeded types. The distinction between these two groups (albeit the borders can be fuzzy at times) of bananas is very important to recognize and the term "edible" is this context is intended to apply only to cultivated, non-seeded, parthenocarpic bananas. For if seeds were forever present in bananas, they would surely not be anywhere near the scale of cultivation as a food crop as they are today.
This is mostly a biased western thinking and I can understand that. I have lived part of my life in the tropics and have grown and eaten many types of bananas there that I was laughing when I get to the US initially to find only two types of bananas in the store.

The point is that you cannot generalize globally, about the context of being edible based on presence or absence of seeds. You the expert should know the fact that the majority of the bananas are not consumed in the west, but locally, and hence seeded or not they became important food crops. You also know the fact that there are varying degrees of seediness in other cultivars.

The saba is a good example, you can frequently come across some real seeds when you eat them, but it hasn't stopped from becoming a staple food in some parts of the world. Compare that to the common grown for export cavendish types that are marketed to US, Europe and Japan which is completely seedless. We value the saba locally way much higher than the Cavendish types even in the presence of occasional seeds. And we can see it in the local prices. I used to remember walking on piles of cavendish bananas left to rot by the piers with people ignoring them. These seedless bananas are those that spilled over from cargoes. With those piles pushed into the side, left to rot, and the irony of it all, some people carrying bunches of the occassionally seeded saba. And as you know it already, in times of survival, when you are in the forest, even the extremely seeded bananas can tide you over.

But amongst the other cavendish types, we also prize the Lakatan. The red skinned bananas are also excellent even if harder to grow.
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Old 10-05-2007, 12:21 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

I just want to make clear to everyone here, that when you are out there reading documents and papers about bananas, when you see the term "edible", it will almost always mean a cultivated, parthenocarpic banana. It does not mean we don't think that seeded bananas are not important and cannot be eaten, it does not mean we think the Cavendish is the best banana in the world and all else are inferior, it does not mean we have any biases towards other cultures and what is thought of as useful or anything else. All it means is that it is a parthenocarpic (forming without pollination) banana.

I am a full hearted banana lover, I really love to see all of the different uses of all types of bananas by everyone who uses them. I'm not here to dictate whats right or wrong, what can be eaten and what cannot be (as I mentioned before, I agree with the fact that any banana, with any degree of seediness, can be eaten). I'm sure there are better terms that can be used to differentiate partenocarpic bananas from wild seeded congenors, however, they are rarely used and if you want to make sense of what you read in scientific journals, magazines, books or other documents on bananas, know that "edible" (in this context) simply means parthenocarpic, and nothing else.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:28 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

I am not sure why this is even an argument. You have to go by the definition. If we didn't define then we get nowhere and nobody understand what we are talking about. I guess we all know the Bill Clinton strategy, "can you define the word the?" It gets to be unreasonable.

Those look just like the seeded bananas I saw everywhere in Okinawa.
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Old 10-06-2007, 09:32 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: A cold hardy stand of bananas in a Sacramento backyard.

Wow, I didn't know this would get this much debate. As a new wrinkle for you, I got a couple Orinoco pups from AnnaJW earlier this spring and hers looks nothing like the pups I just got from my friend. Anna's has a nice red blush and the new pups have no detectable red or pink on them and a yellow midrib. They look more like my CA Gold, only much taller and the Gold has a very, very, faint, pinkish gold midrib.

My friend has small bananas on his plants now, so I'll get some as the frost hits (so they mature as much as possible) and look for seeds.

I did see another stand of cold hardy bananas years ago in Pleasant Grove just north of Sacramento. It was twice the size of my friend's mats and I've wanted to always go back for a pup. I now want to go back and see if it looks like my friend's...

and get a pup...
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