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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 06-17-2009, 02:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

Hi, first post!

I'm interested in growing or developing an edible variety of seeded banana. I own a few acres and grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables. One thing I like to do is select for traits I think are neat or that make a particular plant better suited to my local environment. With every banana being a clone of its parent it seems like what you see is what you get. I'd like to have a tasty banana that can be grown from seed, mixed and matched and subjected to the vagaries of genetic mutation.

It's my understanding that there are no poisonous forms of banana but I was wondering if there are any seeded kinds that are already often used as food? The exact taste isn't critical, sweet or starchy is fine. I'd just like to avoid anything really nasty or bitter tasting.
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Old 06-17-2009, 04:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

Welcome bullshark, any seeded banana you grow will have seeds in the fruit that will have to be choked down or picked out. Is that really what you want?
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Old 06-17-2009, 05:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

Most of my favorite fruits have seeds. Guava, watermelon and oranges to name a few. I can't say it would really bother me to have seeds in a banana.
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Old 06-17-2009, 05:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

Then I think some cadidates are Basjoo, Velutina, Helen's hybrid and some
others. When fully ripe, the fruits of Basjoo are said to be pretty sweet,
and Helen's is advertised that it bears very sweet bananas. And many of the
friends of this forum would have already tasted the fruits of Velutina.
But all of these are FULL of SEEDS!.
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Old 06-17-2009, 05:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

Welcome to Bananas dot org Bullshark!

Musa itinerans is a seeded species that is eaten by elephants and monkeys in its native ecosystem. If monkeys can eat it homo sapiens may consume them also. I plan on seeing how they taste.

How did you choose your online name? I have personal experience with this species.
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

Hello and welcome!

Seeded bananas are normally very heavily seeded, and not good for eating as compared to other common fruits with seeds, they are not at all like eating watermelon or oranges...maybe comparable to a heavily seeded guava (not the nice, large, low seed count cultivars with lots of pulp), but even the heavily seeded guava I find easier to eat than a seeded banana. That being said, there are some different seeded bananas that are eaten (usually as famine food or prepared in some type of specific dish), and they can taste good, but breeding bananas, even seeded ones, is no easy task.

They are very heterozygous, which is good for creating lots of diverse progeny, but if your aim is to be able to have a uniform hybrid plant which you can replant the seeds of, its just not going to be practical for bananas as every seedling will be different, and you will be forced to propagate asexually and thus end up with clones, which it sounds like you are trying to avoid.

Its important to think about what you really want to do; grow bananas, or just mess around with their genetics (which I totally agree is very fun, I do it too, but its not practical for food production). If in the end you really want to grow some food for yourself, I would recommend that you research the different edible varieties and select some that would likely do well in your area, because there are many different varieties and some definitely do better than others in a given environment. If you really want the challenge of breeding a seeded banana, I would recommend working within the Rhodochlamys section to start, these include the species Musa ornata, M. velutina/dasycarpa, M. laterita and a few others (but those are the most common), they are easy to grow and fruit quickly and readily cross with each other. If breeding is all you want to do with your banana collection, do not expect to producing anywhere near the amount of food you can produce with a full on edible cultivar.

My recommendation for your total solution would be to first start researching a little more in depth about bananas, they are very different from most crops and have many interesting and unique aspects of their reproductive physiology that dictate how they cultivated and improved. Then, take a good look at the edible ("seedless") varieties out there, and consider some that would suit your needs, they will be much appreciated and very rewarding if you take good care of them. And finally, perhaps after you know you can grow bananas, get a few seeded varieties to add to your collection and start messing around, but again, know that a seeded banana, by the very nature of it having seeds (along with a few other technical issues) will never be an equal replacement for an edible cultivar.

I hope this helps and stimulates more thought and questions on the subject, do not hesitate to post more questions if you have them.
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm going to try to grow a few and see how I like them.

As for the name, well, I've had personal experience with the species myself. I grew up around them and they've had several opportunities to eat me but they chose not to. I admire many of their traits, such as their adaptability and willpower. On a spiritual level my ancestors revered the bear. There are few bears where I live and in any case they have never shown themselves to me. Naturally the shark has assumed the totemic role in my life.
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Old 06-17-2009, 07:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

Hey Gabe, I didn't see your post... I need to figure out how to make the thread, um... not read upside down!

I actually have a variety of banana, probably dwarf Cavendish, that my family has grown for a few decades. I live a little North of them now but still zone 9 or 10 so I'll give them a try. I've kept the corms alive outside over the winter but under less than ideal conditions and have only just this week moved them to a suitable location for them to thrive. Anyway these will probably be my eating bananas though I'm interested in a few others and would love to get ahold of Gros Michel/Big Mike to try out.

Messing around with the genetics is part of the fun for me. I've been developing an extremely robust tomato and a breed of poultry I like to call the great horned chicken. Ultimately I'd like to develop a seeded banana reasonably suited to table use but it looks like I'll just have to try and see what I get. Based on what you tell me it seems like if I do develop a seeded type I like I might still want to propagate it from cloning but as I understand it as long as its not a triploid it should retain the seeded characteristic. Part of the idea is to have something with the ability to adapt to unforeseen conditions in the future.

I haven't even had the chance to try to eat a seed type banana yet but I'm envisioning peeling the fruit then mashing the flesh and forcing it through a screen to remove the seeds, making something akin to guava paste. My gastronomic instincts suggest to me that a starchy banana so utilized could be processed into a variety of interesting foods. Maybe an entirely new angle on banana bread.
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

I really do encourage you to experiment, I just want to give you as much information as possible. I'm adding in this sentence after looking at what I've just written below (I'm on summer break and have way too much time on my hands!), and I just want to reiterate the fact that although it may come off as negative, I really really do encourage everyone to experiment and mess around, and hopefully, prove conventional knowledge wrong in some way (but it's always good to know whats already been learned by those before us too!).

The rules of breeding that apply to most common crop plants, such as tomato or corn do not apply to bananas, even within the wild species, especially since when breeding with other crops you can have a rather wide genepool of closely related plants so you generally will get good compatibility, but with bananas, many wild species will cross but not combine well and you will end up with sterile plants, and of the ones that will be easily compatible with each other there is not much available in the trade, so that is why I recommend working with the Rhodochlamys because there is a decent diversity but they are all closely related enough that you will be able to cross them easily and possibly get them to form F2 and beyond seeds. If you're really persistent, with enough trials and backcrossing you may even be able to form a fertile homozygous hybrid (kind of like Musa ornata, which is actually a very compatible hybrid between M. flaviflora and M. dasycarpa).

Regarding them being diploid and thus seed producing, this is generally true but there are some things you should know (there actually are fertile triploids, and the reason triploid bananas don't have seeds is not related directly to their ploidy level. There are seedless diploids, triploids and tetraploids). Often times what happens with interspecific banana hybrids is that you will get sterile plants, since you would be working with wild species they will not be parthenocarpic, so if you end up with sterile plants (either from being female sterile or there being a lack of viable pollen, either or both are possible), you will end up with nothing, basically just empty skins. Pollination in general is always an issue for homegrown seeded bananas, you will need multiple plants flowering at the same time (the plants are monecious but the female and male flowers are present at different, non-fully overlapping times) and either have some good pollinators around (possible, but more often then not seeded bananas go unpollinated out of their native habitats), or more likely, you will need to hand pollinate the bunches.

Regarding mashing them thru a strainer, seeded bananas tend to be very small and mostly seed with a thin pulp covering the seeds, sometimes in certain species there is some substance to the pulp but even then, they are nothing like other cultivated seeded fruits. In banana breeding, they actually do use a masher-strainer device, but in that case they are doing large parthenocarpic bananas with a few seeds (at most) scattered throughout, some wild bananas can have upwards of 300 seeds per fruit and virtually no pulp. In fact, one species in particular, Musa balbisiana, has so little pulp and is so dry that a peeled fruit can completely dry out and hold form around the seeds before it even has the chance to rot. Part of my studies include collecting banana seeds from wild bananas and I have found that the masher-strainer concept does not work. The best ways I have found to separate the seeds from the pulp is to take a bite, add lots of saliva and mash it around in my mouth for awhile, bit by bit, spitting out the seeds one by one and cleaning them even further after that. The other method I use involves a screen, but instead of trying to mash the pulp the thru leaving the seeds behind (which does not work), I use it to mash the fruit against with my hands while running water over it to separate everything out, then I pick the seeds off the screen out by hand. I use different methods for different species (depending on how moist and tasty they are), but in both cases I cannot recover any substantial amount of pulp.

The pulp content of a wild seeded banana is not comparable to if a normally seedless banana had seeds. This is because in seedless parthenocarpic cultivars, an autonomous auxin release in the fruit causes a layer of tissue just under the skin the expand and fill the ovary, in seeded bananas that auxin signal is not there, and if fertilized the ovary will instead be filled mostly with seeds, if there is no fertilization then the ovary will remain empty.

One may be thinking then, that the ideal compromise would be to have a plant that is both fertile and parthenocarpic so you could have seeds and a decent amount of pulp at the same time. These types of bananas do in fact exist, and they are categorized as primitive cultivars (as opposed to advanced cultivars which are parthenocarpic but completely sterile). The problems with using primitive cultivars in your case are that 1. they are hard to find on the consumer level (like if you want to buy some from a nursery), and there may not be any available that are both male and female fertile which you would need for the type of breeding you want to do and 2. when parthenocarpic cultivars are used in breeding, even if they are diploid, there is a number of poorly understood meiotic errors that can occur and you can actually end up with progeny ranging from diploids to septaploids (on top of heterozygosity) and thus you are back with having to deal with wildly diverse seedling progeny.

The diagrams below (though not comprehensive) will help to illustrate some of the issues I've address above. From: Simmonds, N.W. The Evolution of the Bananas. London: Longmans, 1962.



The above caption which is partially covered by the watermark reads "Cross-sections of fruit pulp shown stippled and seeds solid black; arrows show the consequences of failure of pollination"
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Old 06-18-2009, 01:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

Thanks a lot for the excellent info Gabe!

It may be that I'm really most interested in a primitive cultivar. Hybridization is not absolutely necessary for my interests. Chance mutation within a single breed or species is often sufficiently interesting and I am a fan of rare or unusual crops and livestock. I don't mind taking some time and spending some money in the quest, especially since I already have some bananas to tide me over.
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Old 06-18-2009, 02:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

What actually you could try, if you don't mind the seeds, is Musa paradisiaca, or at least this is what they call this plant in Turkey. It has seeds and crosses with other bananas, but the seeds are actually tiny, when I should compare it, like the seeds in watermelon.
I include the picture as well. In Europe, this plant is also labelled as Musa 'French Plantain'.

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Old 06-18-2009, 02:32 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Very cool Jack Daw. I'd eat that .

Bull Shark , I'm glad you didn't get bit. Most people don't realize that this is one of the most dangerous on earth.
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Old 06-18-2009, 05:03 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

I appreciate the leads this thread has generated!

Yeah, I've been bumped a number of times in murky water. That's about as close as it comes without involving teeth. They certainly can be dangerous creatures but the same goes for just about any large animal really, even many herbivores. Moose are famous for being more dangerous than grizzlies for instance. Otherwise docile domestic cattle can be dangerous when panicked just because of their size and strength.

The thing about the sharks most people don't really consider is that when you enter their world you're dealing with a totally different paradigm than what you're used to in human society. The sharks have two instincts that can cause you trouble, one is the instinct to feed and the other is the instinct to defend their territory. You can't really blame any lifeform for defending its territory, even many plants do through the use of poisons and thorns. Everything that lives requires a certain amount of a certain sort of environment in order to survive. The presence and activities of outsiders can put that in jeopardy and any lifeform I can think of has its own mechanisms for defending its life. The one you really have to be careful about is putting yourself into the middle of their prey drive. Avoid murky waters, dawn and dusk, areas of shallow water with deep drop offs, shoals of food, etc.

Specifically in regards to bulls what makes them so dangerous isn't even particularly aggressive behavior or a strong prey drive, it's simply a matter of their being a large carnivore that lives in shallow water close to shore where they're more likely to come in contact with people. When you factor in the manmade environmental destruction in these areas that affects how much and where food can be found, what areas are left that are suitable to sustain their needs and other considerations you start to see that more of it is a result of systems being out of balance. I think we need to focus more on trying to keep the systems running smoothly and working with them rather than trying to smash what we find and reassemble the pieces into something else. I feel the plants, animals and forces of nature are doing right. We're the ones with the greater capacity for reason which makes us one of the greatest powers in nature. With that power comes a need to act responsibly.
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:28 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Daw View Post
What actually you could try, if you don't mind the seeds, is Musa paradisiaca, or at least this is what they call this plant in Turkey. It has seeds and crosses with other bananas, but the seeds are actually tiny, when I should compare it, like the seeds in watermelon.
I include the picture as well. In Europe, this plant is also labelled as Musa 'French Plantain'.

Musa paradisiaca is not a real plant, and the photo shown here looks like a normal 'Cavendish' banana, those little black dots are undeveloped ovules, not seeds. This confusion is very persistent all over the place, Musa paradisiaca is a type name, it is basically equal to "banana" and does not refer to any specific plant. A type of French Plantain was the plant that was originally described as Musa paradisiaca, but with modern science we now know that it is not a valid wild species, and thus the name M. paradisiaca is kept for historical purposes to mean any banana since it was the first that was described. Edible bananas have their own, non-Linnean-binomial naming system which has been in use by banana researcher since the 1950's, but still many resources use the old naming conventions that were used for bananas over 200 years ago.
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:37 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

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Thanks a lot for the excellent info Gabe!

It may be that I'm really most interested in a primitive cultivar. Hybridization is not absolutely necessary for my interests. Chance mutation within a single breed or species is often sufficiently interesting and I am a fan of rare or unusual crops and livestock. I don't mind taking some time and spending some money in the quest, especially since I already have some bananas to tide me over.
If its random mutation you are waiting for, then it really doesn't matter what banana you grow, edible or wild, because there is always a chance that the suckers can deviate from the mother thru somatic mutation, this is part of the reason why there are so many different edible bananas even though they are not able to sexually reproduce effectively. I think the odds of finding a somatic mutant have been calculated to be about 1 in ten million (just going from memory, I don't have the book with me right now where I remember reading that). Over thousands of years with millions of farmers around the world, many selections have been made and now you can but them at nurseries. There is always the chance that you will find a mutant among your plants, I've seen them, but its not something to count on.
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Old 06-19-2009, 01:10 AM   #16 (permalink)
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If its random mutation you are waiting for, then it really doesn't matter what banana you grow, edible or wild, because there is always a chance that the suckers can deviate from the mother thru somatic mutation, this is part of the reason why there are so many different edible bananas even though they are not able to sexually reproduce effectively. I think the odds of finding a somatic mutant have been calculated to be about 1 in ten million (just going from memory, I don't have the book with me right now where I remember reading that). Over thousands of years with millions of farmers around the world, many selections have been made and now you can but them at nurseries. There is always the chance that you will find a mutant among your plants, I've seen them, but its not something to count on.
Nope, it maybe doesn't look like that, but the undeveloped seeds are quite larg, mcuh larger than unprocessed poppy seeds.
This is a wild banana of Turkey, there has never been any breeding what-so-ever, the plant just lives by itself.
It also donates quite a lot of pollen, because one of my friends in there can't really grow any seeded variety, as this is very invasive, it pollinates everyting from some reason.
Btw. The fruit from DC or SDC I have ever eaten or the food from the stores had much smaller and much less seeds, that this one. Please look at this link and tell me what you think. This was I think the plant taken from Turkey by a man from Germany (especially the seeds size picture, the last one):
Bilder 2009

Any clues as what you would call this? I'm pretty sure it really has no name but Musa paradisiaca.
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Old 06-19-2009, 10:57 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are There Any Seeded Bananas Used As Food?

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Nope, it maybe doesn't look like that, but the undeveloped seeds are quite larg, mcuh larger than unprocessed poppy seeds.
This is a wild banana of Turkey, there has never been any breeding what-so-ever, the plant just lives by itself.
It also donates quite a lot of pollen, because one of my friends in there can't really grow any seeded variety, as this is very invasive, it pollinates everyting from some reason.
Btw. The fruit from DC or SDC I have ever eaten or the food from the stores had much smaller and much less seeds, that this one. Please look at this link and tell me what you think. This was I think the plant taken from Turkey by a man from Germany (especially the seeds size picture, the last one):
Bilder 2009

Any clues as what you would call this? I'm pretty sure it really has no name but Musa paradisiaca.

In that link you posted, the banana there is not fully developed, and those "seeds" are still just undeveloped ovules, not seeds. There are no true wild bananas in Turkey, anything there would likely be an edible landrace. I cannot make an ID on that plant because it is too underdeveloped. It doesn't matter that it is called Musa paradisiaca, but because there is no M. paradisiaca plant, many many different bananas are all incorrectly called M. paradisiaca, so it cannot be used to say that 2 plants are the same if they both come with that name.
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