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Main Banana Discussion This is where we discuss our banana collections; tips on growing bananas, tips on harvesting bananas, sharing our banana photos and stories.


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Old 11-28-2010, 12:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

This is a difficult trio of traits to obtain, but there are a few. So what types of bananas come to mind when looking for a colorful edible that has some hardiness? And by I hardy, I mean a successful producer in zone 9. For me, I would say Mysore, Manzano, and Iholene Red.
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Old 11-28-2010, 06:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

Any of the three "Rojo" varieties, with the exception of Sumatrana. The 3 have deep maroon undersides and the red 'blood spots' on tops of the leaves. "Rojo X Sumatrana" produces edible fruit that have a slight coconut taste to them.
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Old 11-28-2010, 09:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

Quote:
Originally Posted by floridagrower View Post
This is a difficult trio of traits to obtain, but there are a few. So what types of bananas come to mind when looking for a colorful edible that has some hardiness? And by I hardy, I mean a successful producer in zone 9. For me, I would say Mysore, Manzano, and Iholene Red.
You are in USDA hardiness zone 8b/9a? How often has Mysore and Iholene Red produced there?
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

Mysore will produce any year here, as long as the winter is mild. The Red Iholene hasn't produced because it's too young but it out performs others that are supposed to be more hardy.
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:57 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

The folks I know in northern San Diego county in zone 8b/9a have not had the same success. The Manzano looses all its leaves and any crop every winter. Fruit is only obtained if it appears in spring and ripens before fall. Mysore and Red Iholene (among others) are killed each winter. Rojo x Sumatrana works, and Dwarf Orinoco has the same behavior as Manzano.
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Old 11-29-2010, 01:05 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

This cultivar may be a winner, but unfortunately, is not at all available to the hobby community. You're going to have to go on an expedition and smuggle it out of Uganda if you want one.

It's an East African Highland Banana (EAHB) called 'Bitambi'. It is most definitely edible (and very good both cooked and as a dessert fruit), has mottled black to nearly full black pseudostems, red petioles and red leaves. When I took these photos, the plants were only scantily red, but was told that under certain conditions they can become entirely very red. Additionally, it is an EAHB, which as a group tend to show at least some cool tolerance (and even an aversion to higher temps which other bananas can handle fine).

So, they're out there alright, along with many other extremely interesting and unusual bananas, but like so many of them, just out of reach of the hobbyist.

Does it still count as teasing if I don't have this plant myself? Because I don't!







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Old 11-29-2010, 01:52 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

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The folks I know in northern San Diego county in zone 8b/9a have not had the same success. The Manzano looses all its leaves and any crop every winter. Fruit is only obtained if it appears in spring and ripens before fall. Mysore and Red Iholene (among others) are killed each winter. Rojo x Sumatrana works, and Dwarf Orinoco has the same behavior as Manzano.
I would say those folks are allowing their bananas to rot, there is no sense in not having fruit there. If you don't stay ahead of the rot you will loose more sensitive types pretty low to the ground. We loose leaves too. While I do live in the "tundra" of Florida we are still over 200 miles south of San Diego, the "Miami" of California. We heat up fast and strong here. Furthermore, we receive more rain and have all the hottest records for the state here as well.
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Old 11-29-2010, 01:59 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

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Originally Posted by Gabe15 View Post
This cultivar may be a winner, but unfortunately, is not at all available to the hobby community. You're going to have to go on an expedition and smuggle it out of Uganda if you want one.

It's an East African Highland Banana (EAHB) called 'Bitambi'. It is most definitely edible (and very good both cooked and as a dessert fruit), has mottled black to nearly full black pseudostems, red petioles and red leaves. When I took these photos, the plants were only scantily red, but was told that under certain conditions they can become entirely very red. Additionally, it is an EAHB, which as a group tend to show at least some cool tolerance (and even an aversion to higher temps which other bananas can handle fine).

So, they're out there alright, along with many other extremely interesting and unusual bananas, but like so many of them, just out of reach of the hobbyist.

Does it still count as teasing if I don't have this plant myself? Because I don't!







These look pretty awesome. Any comments on the flavor? As an aside, I was watching some tv program the other day that was in Africa, near Somalia. The locals had a staple banana tree there that was a tall variety and had a very dark/black trunk. The leaves were green. Perhaps this is the "Hawaiian Black" type?
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Old 11-29-2010, 02:32 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

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These look pretty awesome. Any comments on the flavor?
I haven't had 'Bitambi' specifically, but I have had many other East African Highland Bananas and they are all relatively similar. In East Africa, they are always cooked when green, they are soft though and come out something like mashed potatoes (called matooke). Many foreigners do not like it...I liked it so much I'm growing my own here! As a dessert banana (which goes against all tradition, but I highly recommend it), they are normally sweet and soft with noticeably more moisture than most other bananas, almost juicy. They also tend to have a complex, and very likable flavor.

In a small taste test study I did with one EAHB among some other well liked varieties (Cavendish, Brazilian, Namwah, Niyarma Yik), the EAHB ('Enyoya' specifically) did very well as a dessert fruit and was rated very high.

Quote:
Originally Posted by floridagrower View Post
As an aside, I was watching some tv program the other day that was in Africa, near Somalia. The locals had a staple banana tree there that was a tall variety and had a very dark/black trunk. The leaves were green. Perhaps this is the "Hawaiian Black" type?
It had to have been one of the 80-90 EAHB varieties which are common and widespread throughout the region. Most varieties have some black in the pseudostem, some are solid black. These varieties have a very long history in the region having been cultivated continuously and in high amounts for at least the past 4000 years. It certainly was not a Hawaiian banana.

I think many hobbyists and small scale growers would enjoy the Highland bananas, but they are not so common outside of East Africa. I have a few cultivars but due to a few constraints cannot easily distribute them.
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Old 11-29-2010, 02:56 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

Any idea about the genome or how it's classified? Is there a similar one available for hobbyists to try?
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Old 11-29-2010, 04:00 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

Quote:
Originally Posted by floridagrower View Post
Any idea about the genome or how it's classified? Is there a similar one available for hobbyists to try?
They all have an AAA genome, normally referred to as the Mutika/Lujugira subgroup which is also commonly known as East African Highland Banana (often abbreviated as EAHB, EAH, AAA-EA, AAA-EAH or something similar), I believe banksii derived but would have to double check that. There are 4 distinct clone sets within the subgroup which are closer related to each other than cultivars in other clone sets within the subgroup. They are a relatively well studied group of bananas and there it lot's of information on them.

A particularly good source of information on them is Dr. Deborah Kamamura's dissertation in which she evaluated and classified almost all of them.
You can download the file here: http://bananas.bioversityinternation...sdkaramura.pdf

I don't believe any of them are available in the US or European hobby market. There is a chance there is one or two down in S. Florida from Bill Lessard's old collection (now Going Bananas Nursery), but it is a bit unclear. I plan on traveling there this upcoming summer and so it will be clearer if there are any there.
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Old 11-29-2010, 09:44 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

Quote:
Originally Posted by floridagrower View Post
I would say those folks are allowing their bananas to rot, there is no sense in not having fruit there. If you don't stay ahead of the rot you will loose more sensitive types pretty low to the ground. We loose leaves too. While I do live in the "tundra" of Florida we are still over 200 miles south of San Diego, the "Miami" of California. We heat up fast and strong here. Furthermore, we receive more rain and have all the hottest records for the state here as well.
San Diego county has elevations from sea level to 9,000 feet and USDA hardiness zones 6 through 10. The folks I'm referring to in zone 8b/9a are expert fruit growers.
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:03 AM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Colorful, Edible, and Hardy

I lost two flowering White Iholena last winter.No doubt if I could have keep them dry they would have survived.
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