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Species Bananas Discussions of all the different wild species of banana (non edible), an aspect of the hobby that deserves its own section.


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Old 10-06-2010, 11:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Musa basjoo

Hi Members,

I am here in China especially studying for Musa basjoo variations in temperature region. It is known that the species is native to Sichuan mountainous area and from there to east along Yangtze River valley. The taller ones (stem height over 6 meters) are from mountains and smaller ones (stem height over 2.5 meters) are from lower elevation along the Yangtze River to east.

The smaller one had introduced to Japan in ancient time in where it is cultivated all over the main islands as ornamental. In 19th century it was introduced to Europe probably only a few clones which seems to be more or less sterile.

My question is having you seen seed producing variants? Here they are producing seeds normally but the ones I have seen in Europe and USA are sterile clones.

Markku
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Old 10-07-2010, 08:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Hi Markku,

In Europe we use to believe the reason M.basjoo doesnít produce seeds was because the clone or clones that are available to us they appeared to be sterile.
We donít believe that to be the case any more though!

The truth about Musa basjoo

What we understand now is because M.basjoo produces the female flower first and once those are no longer receptive they then produces the male flowers, pollination is highly unlikely to occur.
You need two heads flowing at slightly different times so the male pollen can be passed on to a female flower.
It would be interesting to hear if the Veitch clone first introduced into Europe from Japan has been scientifically proven to be sterile!
Some people have produced seeds on M.basjoo in the UK but our summer may be to short for the seed to ripen successfully, Iím not sure what the clones where though that produced the seeds.
That said M.basjoo does produce seeds in Japan although the seeds are said to have very low viability.

It,s good to hear your working on M.basjoo in China Markku, and I look forward to reading about your findings.
You say M.basjoo are producing seeds normally in China, have the seeds been tested for viability!
It would be cool if some of those seeds found there way over to Europe or the US.

Tony
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Old 10-07-2010, 08:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Markku,
From what I understand is that Musa basjoo needs to have two flowers in synch to be able to pollinate eachother, AND the summerseason needs to be long enough for the fruit to develop.
Neither of these conditions are very likely to occur in a zone 6 or 7 where it freezes severely in Europe, so that's why I always thought no basjoo has produced seed here.
Basjoo varieties however do occur here, but mainly because somebody that imports them claims them to be different, like Musa basjoo 'Saporro', 'Sakhalin', 'Fiji-Yama', ect...
David Constantine wrote a nice atricle about basjoo, I'm sure you already know it, but for al those who don't:
The truth about Musa basjoo

Kind regards,
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Old 10-07-2010, 08:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Whaha, I press Enter and there comes Tony with the exact same link! Haha, thanks Tony, we're on the same thought here!

Kind regards,
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Hi,

M. basjoo is producing seeds here normally. However, there is very difficult to find ripe fruits as animals have eaten them like the same with all the other wild bananas. Much of the areas in Sichuan have cleared for agriculture but in mountain areas one can see really wild basjoos grown naturally from seeds. Most of those places are inaccessible by man. These tall basjoos must be more cold tolerant than the ones in Europe due to cold winters in high elevation.
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:12 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

I was at Kew gardens at the end of August and they had several Basjoos flowering and producing fruit, at different times, so I assume producing seeds too. As far as I know they don't produce fruit unless pollinated.

I was tempted to ask for some seeds, but I didn't have the courage.
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Hi,
I have visited at Kew (mainly in herbarium / library / nursery and garden) annually during past 10 years. They have in temperature house several basjoos but I have never seen producing mature fruits. I have asked the staff also and the answer is no fruits / seeds. There were also in front of temperature house two basjoos without any protection last winter and they have survived the extra cold winter in UK just losing their leaves. New leaves were growing nicely in last May when I visited over there.
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Old 10-07-2010, 11:37 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Hi Markku,

I too visit Kew annually and have done so for many years, Iím also surprised that they have never produced seeds in the temperate house.
I was told several years ago that Kew had received M.basjoo seeds from Sichuan, so I presume they have different clones too!
Do you know what the main pollinators of basjoo are in China?

Tony
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Old 10-07-2010, 12:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmoore View Post
I was at Kew gardens at the end of August and they had several Basjoos flowering and producing fruit, at different times, so I assume producing seeds too. As far as I know they don't produce fruit unless pollinated.
What you were likely seeing was the unfertilized ovaries which all bananas will make, but those are not mature seed-bearing fruits. Here is an example of what Markku is asking about:

Typical M. basjoo with unfertilized ovules:
Kew Gardens, London, England



M. basjoo with fertilized ovules (maturing fruits):
National Botanic Garden of Belgium, Meise Belgium



What I have noticed at least with naturalized wild species in Hawaii (M. balbisiana, M. ornata and M. acuminata mainly), is that the pollination of the fruits is very frequent for some species in some locations, and very frequent for others.

For example, in Hawaii M. balbisiana is almost always pollinated and seed-bearing. I have also noticed this in Florida and California too, so perhaps it is desirable to many different pollinators. M. acuminata is pollinated infrequently and in some areas is almost never pollinated while in others it is almost always pollinated.

Of course the pollinators that are doing this are not the exact same normal pollinators in the wild in Asia, but it is obvious that some species are highly adaptable to being pollinated by new vectors, while others are not.

I'm not sure what this really means for M. basjoo in Europe and N. America, but it's relevant to seed set in wild Musa outside of their native habitat, so think about it.
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Hi Gabe,

I believe the main pollinator of Basjoo in the wild could be Bats (nectar feeding Bats) something we donít have in Europe, not sure about North America!
Even those basjoo in Japan I was told had to be hand pollinated.
Beeís wasp and hornets rob the flower of its nectar because there tongue isnít long enough to reach the nectar so contribute little to pollination.


Tony
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:18 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Quote:
Originally Posted by tony palmer View Post
Hi Gabe,

I believe the main pollinator of Basjoo in the wild could be Bats (nectar feeding Bats) something we don’t have in Europe, not sure about North America!
Even those basjoo in Japan I was told had to be hand pollinated.
Bee’s wasp and hornets rob the flower of its nectar because there tongue isn’t long enough to reach the nectar so contribute little to pollination.


Tony
Bees actually seem to be quite probable pollinators of Musa as I have seen them many times collect the pollen, and then move on to collect nectar. Bees feed on nectar and pollen. Normally, I see them either entering the top of the compound tepal and collect pollen off of the anthers, or they go to the bottom of the flower and collect nectar from the free tepal when it is easily accessible. Usually there are a few and they are walking all over the flowers and touching everything. Perhaps they are not the most efficient pollinators, but I certainly have seen them show behavior which could easily lead to pollination. In both Hawaii and Uganda, I have noticed frequent seed set in edible cultivars (mostly ABB types) that are grown in germplasm collections alongside wild species, indicating that there must be some non-normal pollinators which easily pollinate Musa. And I have described the case for some naturalized wild species in Hawaii above. I would still like to observe more pollinators in the forest with wild species as I believe there are likely multiple effective pollinators.

I have many good photos of bees on Musa flowers but they have not been organized yet (they are mostly from my most recent travels), but I will try to find some later. Also wasps and some flies visit the flowers often too.
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:32 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Hi Gabe,

No disrespect, but the best way to learn about basjooÖ is in the wild!
That way we can understand more about its natural environmental and ecological needs.

Tony
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:13 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Have a look at this Gabe, its got some interested reading about bats and wild bananas

Bats and Disappearing Wild Bananas


Tony
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:24 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

A lot of plants form symbiotic relationships with their pollinators that have evolved over a long period of time, and it's this relationship that force the flower shape of some species. It could be that Basjoo formed this relationship and has now lost it through some reason either through the pollinator moving onto easier pickings or the Basjoo hasn't evolved to keep up and only relies on ad hoc pollinators now.

Just a thought.
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:54 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Hi James you’re forgetting something, Markku said basjoo produce seed bearing fruit in China that’s not a problem! It’s Europe and the US where they don’t.

That could mean in the wild basjoo is specific to a certain pollinator that doesn’t exist in Europe or the US


Tony

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Old 10-08-2010, 07:48 AM   #16 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Hi,

I agree with Tony but I have not seen what is pollinating basjoos here in China. Bees are very common in all banana flowers but they are not actual pollinators. I have observed in Tombiguan Nature reserve where is a huge populations of Musa balbisiana plants that the bird (similar to humming bird) is making the pollination in daytime. Also I have observed the same bird it pollinating M. violascens in Peninsular Malaysia.
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Old 10-08-2010, 01:00 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

What I mean about the pollination is that out of the native habitat some wild bananas are able to be pollinated, maybe bees help maybe they don't, but the plants are certainly pollinated by a vector which is not it's natural vector in Asia. Based on my observations, Musa which require pollen movement to set seed (so excluding M. velutina and other self-pollinators) are still able to adapt to some new pollinators and produce pollinated fruits. There is one bat species in Hawaii and it is not a likely pollinator of all these naturalized bananas. In some areas of Hawaii some wild bananas are naturalized.

I do not disagree that field study is very important and the only proper way to understand how a plant behaves in the wild, but since we are talking about seed set outside of the wild (In Europe and North America), these are my observations. Pollination can still be frequent without the natural vectors or hand pollination.
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Old 10-08-2010, 04:41 PM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Here in France we have a lot of basjoos clumps and we think that only the ancient clumps can produce seeds because now they all are of tc and actually sterile ...
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:22 PM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Hi,
I think that we are entering to a wrong direction in this discussion. The question was if the M.basjoo's introduced to Europe or USA are sterile or not? Do they produce seeds or not? It is not a question of pollinators as many people in Europe and USA have tried to hand pollinate them without any success. Most of them seem to be sterile.
What is coming to Meise Botanical Garden, Belgium M.basjoo. It has indeed pollinated fruits (pollinated by who?) but it is a different variety and not the sterile clone what the most introduced basjoos' are. I have visited in Meise also and I have personnal observations of it.
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Old 11-02-2010, 09:07 PM   #20 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo

Markku,

Interresting that you have seen Musa basjoo in the wild! Do you have some habitad pictures of them? And till what altitude do they grow? And do you have seeds of the most highl altitude and coldest provenance? And till what latitude are they found?

There is not that much information about M. basjoo in the wild, I have never seen photos of it for example in its natural habitad. And you learn the most from a plant when you see how it grows in its natural habitad!

I had planted M. basjoo here in a tropical butterflygarden under glass. Just to see if it will produce fruits with seeds. Maybe the plants are not steril here in Europe but there are only a few clones arround. The Veitch one and Sakhalin are maybe the most common. So it should be possible to cross polinate the 2 when grown under glass. Here they have not flowered simultaneously yet.

Regards,

Alexander
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