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Old 02-28-2008, 01:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Babaco

(excerpt from upcoming newsletter publication)

The Babaco (Vasconcellea ×heilbornii; syn. Carica pentagona) is a papaya-like plant first introduced into North American gardens by Steve Spangler, founder of Exotica Nursery in Vista CA. It is native to the mountainous regions of equatorial America. The Babaco is widely available in Southern California nurseries during summer months.

The plant is incredibly easy to grow in temperate climates. Nursery stock will survive in pots or planted in the ground with regular applications of humic fertilizers. In my experience, modest applications of GroPower 8-6-8 Citrus and Avocado Food seem more than sufficient.

In the wild, the plants grow for several years to a height of 15 feet or so, and then break off near the base due to the inability of the stalk to support growth at that height. In cultivation, the plant is grown for 2–4 years to a height of about 5 feet, then cut back near the base for regeneration. The removed stalks can be cut into ~1 foot sections, coated with RootTone® or another rooting compound, and grown into additional plants which will bear viable fruit in 2 years. It is quite cold-hardy for a tropical plant, living through 3 nights of 27 deg-F temperatures in the “freeze of 2007”. When loaded with fruit, the plant does need lateral support to avoid tipping or breaking during a wind storm.

The Babaco is a naturally occurring hybrid between the true mountain papaya (Vasconcellea pubescens, syn. Carica pubescens) and the Chamburro (Vasconcellea stipulata, syn. Carica stipulata). It has no seeds, and can correctly be thought of as a “mule”. Its propagation in the wild has been carried out by repeated hybridization and the ability of broken stalks to regenerate in organically rich soils.

The fruit of the Babaco begins forming in the spring with the introduction of pseudo flower buds. In southern CA, the first buds fall off but by May begin to take hold and generate fruit. By late summer, the fruits are large, green, and quite solid.

The fruit turns almost completely yellow when ripe. In the wild, the natural climes are warm enough for the fruit to ripen by November. However, in coastal or coastal-influenced southern CA, the desired number of degree-days will not be accumulated until the following March or April. Ripe fruit will fall from the plant, taking out the guess-work of harvesting. Piles of peat around the plant will guarantee a soft landing and benefit the culture of the Babaco.

The ripe fruit is less sweet than the Caribbean and Strawberry Papayas of the genus Carica. The taste is reminiscent of pineapple and hence the name “Pineapple Papaya” would be an excellent choice when marketing this fruit adjacent to its more common cousins.

In my opinion, the ripe fruit is excellent eaten fresh. As a fruit drink it is loved by people of all ages and is outstanding in sorbet. (My wife points out that the possibilities for rum drinks are endless.) The nutritional content of the fruit is quite high – even compared to some of the more popular “healthy” fruits currently taking the market by storm. In recent years, the MinuteMaid® division of the Coca-Cola® Company has introduced a line of tropical fruit drinks containing Passion, Mango, etc. Given the relative ease and low-cost of Babaco production, it would make a fine and enterprising addition to their product line.



More photos can be found here: Banana Gallery - Richard's Papaya Album
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Last edited by Richard : 04-03-2008 at 01:38 PM. Reason: 2006 taxonomy updates
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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sounds good, we are going to large greenhouse to winter plants we would like
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Babaco

Does the Babaco produce papain ?
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Old 03-04-2008, 02:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Babaco

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Does the Babaco produce papain ?
Papain is a protease in the juice of unripe papaya that is used especially as a tenderizer for meat and in medicine (as in the topical debridement of necrotic tissue). -- from Webster's online dictionary.

I don't know if Babaco produces this protein. Note that common papaya is in the Genus Carissa, while Babaco is in the Genus Vasconcellea.
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Old 03-31-2008, 06:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Babaco

With the arrival of spring in Southern California, nurseries are beginning to stock Babaco plants, typically near the banana plants and in the same size pots. Elsewhere in far-flung places like Salinas, Texas, and Tennesee -- there are people who have or will receive babaco cuttings very soon now. And so my inbox is full of questions about how to grow them.



The bottom 2-3 inches of the cutting should be dipped in rooting hormone -- which is how I ship them because the rooting compound also contains fungicide. The cutting should be planted a depth equal to about 1/3 its length. The plant is not shy about rooting and new leafs should start to push out the top in a few weeks or so -- depending upon the local temperature. You can water it with 1/4 teaspoon of SuperThrive added to a gallon of water one time only. After that, water the cutting without a supplement until it starts pushing out new leafs.

In either case, the Babaco can be planted either in the ground or in a pot. You can transplant/root it outside now if the daytime temperatures are above 65 F and the nighttime temps do not dip below 50 F. If you are in USDA zone 9 or higher, you can grow the plant outdoors year-round. It is native to the highlands of central America in zone 10-11. It tolerates frosts but is killed by a hard freeze.

If you wish to (or have to) grow it in a pot, a 25 gallon size is sufficient and 50 gallon is unnecessary. For a 25 gallon pot you will need a little over 3 cubic feet of soil for a cutting, and a little less than 3 cu.ft. for a transplant from a 1 gallon pot. If you are going to purchase soil, consider 3 parts citrus mix with 1 part fine-grain cured compost (e.g., Kellogg's N-Rich). Another option is Kellogg's Patio Mix straight out of the bag. Allow room for 1.5 inches of mulch on top of the soil but 1.5 inches below the rim of the pot.

Just like your bananas, the base of the Babaco trunk will rot if left soggy for too long. However, don't fret: the Babaco is hardier than bananas in this respect. If you potted your plant -- it cannot stay soggy.

The plant wants full sun, but in areas (hello Arizona) that get over 95 F with low humidity it needs 25% shade during the heat of the day. Remember, this plant is not a Carica and is native to highland areas -- not frying hot lowlands. Another location thought: steady seasonal hot winds for multiple hours will permanently bend the plant, especially if it is loaded with fruit. A stake won't help because any strapping will cut deeply into the trunk. Instead consider a location where a fence will back up the plant during that season. If the plant does bend -- oh well, your fruit will still grow to maturity.

If planting in the ground, excavate a hole 2 ft x 2 ft x 2 ft. Make sure it drains. Remove all rocks larger than a golf ball. If your soil is not too sandy or not heavy clay, then just mix 3 parts of your soil with 1 part fine-grained cured compost. If your soil is too sandy, use 3 parts potting soil and 1 part your soil. If your soil is heavy clay, use 1 part your soil, 1 part citrus mix, and 2 parts fine-grained cured compost. Form a basin around your plant and water. Then apply at least 2 inches of mulch over the entire area.

If your bananas like what you feed them and they produce a lot of fruit, then feed that to your babaco plant. Don't start feeding your transplant or rooting until it is pushing out new leafs. I am using a granular Citrus-Avocado food (GroPower brand) rated 8-6-8, or a tropical plant granular rated 8-1-12 (when it is available). In either case, I use 1/4 cup per month for the potted plant and 1 cup per month for the plants in the ground.

My plants in the ground receive 5 gallons of water every 4 days during my summer months.

The growth habit of the Babaco is somewhat like a palm in that as leafs mature they will drop from the plant and new leafs will be generated. Expect leaf drop. Healthy leafs are green and a bit red-veined. In zone 9 when it gets cold there will be extra leaf drop and basically, any time the plant is shocked you will also get leaf drop (so Jackson -- don't go out there in your underwear). The plant is doing fine so long as new growth is pushing out the top.

For details about fruit maturation, see post #1 below.
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Old 04-01-2008, 05:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Babaco

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagniappe View Post
Does the Babaco produce papain ?
It does, as do most other members of the Vasconcella (which used to be part of Carica, which is now restricted to just the common Papaya.) In Babaco, the papain action is responsible for the slightly effervescent (fizzy) quality of the fresh juice.

In addtion to what other people have mentioned, it makes a terriffic substitute for apples in crisps, pies, and crumbles.
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Old 04-03-2008, 01:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Babaco

For those who care about taxonomy changes, I've received the following updates from the taxonomy police:

Babaco = Vasconcellea × heilbornii; syn. Carica pentagona

with Vasconcellea × heilbornii = True mountain papaya (Vasconcellea pubescens, syn. Carica pubescens) X Chamburro (Vasconcellea stipulata, syn. Carica stipulata).

I have inserted these updates into post #1 below.

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Old 04-05-2008, 03:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Babaco

thanks richard! the info has come in handy. before i read this info i went ahead and planted it. gulp,gulp..(every cutting i have ever recieved i dip into the hormone) i moistened the cut end and dipped it in rooting harmone. i planted it in well draining nana dirt and then watered it. glad im a plant freak! it is now sitting in an area that gets great afternoon sun. just a note, when i opened up the package,i smelt the cut end and i got the faintest smell of pineapple. oh it smelled yummy! im so excited to see it grow.
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Old 04-05-2008, 09:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
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so it got a double dose of rooting hormone, once from me and then from you. Given the nature of the plant, it probably will sprout double roots
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Old 04-05-2008, 10:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Babaco

works for me!
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Old 04-09-2008, 06:36 AM   #11 (permalink)
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hey richard...just wanted to let you know i have new sprouts at the top of my babaco.they are maybe 1/4 in. tall. will post a few pics later. just thought youd like to know. btw...thanks again!
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:19 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Babaco

oh yeah ... that's great! This plant is not shy about growing.

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Old 04-09-2008, 02:55 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Babaco

i hope not, i have high hopes for this plant. lol!
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Old 08-02-2009, 11:23 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Babaco

Hi!
I registered at bananas.org today, because I wish to find information for Babaco and hit at this forums.
I`m from Bulgaria and I`m sorry for my bad English.
Here, in Bulgaria, don`t have any Babaco yet, but I wish so much to have that tree. I want to tell me were I can buy Babaco from. And what is the price?
Thank you!
Greeting! Have a nice evening!!!

Last edited by Pavlina Nikolova : 08-02-2009 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 08-02-2009, 01:02 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pavlina Nikolova View Post
Hi!
I registered at bananas.org today, because I wish to find information for Babaco and hit at this forums.
I`m from Bulgaria and I`m sorry for my bad English.
Here, in Bulgaria, don`t have any Babaco yet, but I wish so much to have that tree. I want to tell me were I can buy Babaco from. And what is the price?
Thank you!
Greeting! Have a nice evening!!!
Yep, Slavic name it is.
Welcome to the org, Pavlinka, please look into the section about introducing yourself ( Member Introductions, Social Announcements & Good Wishes - Bananas.org ), you will surely find what your heart desires very soon.
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Old 08-07-2009, 06:23 PM   #16 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Babaco

I found Babaco down here but my wife didn't really like.
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:00 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Babaco

Excellent in smoothies, ice cream, or make sorbet from it. If the person tasting it thinks it will taste like ordinary papaya, they will be disappointed. On the otherhand, if you prepare them with the idea it is "Pineapple Papaya" then there is much greater acceptance. Sliced banana and babaco is a favorite combo of mine!
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Old 08-08-2009, 06:34 AM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Babaco

Hello again!
Thanks for the warm welcome and for the information, Jack Daw! And ... yes - Slavic name it is.
Nice and that ewitte and Richard also joined in the topic.
Meanwhile, I found this site here: Tropical Plants. Do you know anything about this? Is it safe?
Thanks in advance!
Once I find the search will notify you immediately.
Have a nice day!!!
Greetings!!!

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Old 08-08-2009, 10:25 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I noticed that site says "(Sorry we do not accept International plant orders)". I believe you are in Bulgaria?
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Old 08-08-2009, 10:50 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Hey Richard! They've found a new variety of Babaco here in South Ecuador - apparently a hardier "tree" with personal-sized fruits, that's resistant to Fusarium wilt and other fungal and nematode problems...
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