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Banana Cultivars in New
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PLANT SUPPLIERS IN NZ VEGETABLES
The naming and
of banana varieties can be challenging. Banana varieties are often
renamed, multiply named. Under New Zealand conditions the fruit may
different, making identification from overseas sources difficult. There
are also quite a few introductions from Samoa and other Pacific
which local selections may be somatic mutations of cultivars, and
slightly different. The foremost authority on banana cultivars in New
was the late Phil Gardner. The Gardner collection has been
conserved by Robin Booth of Kerikeri. Some of the best cultivars have
selected by John Prince, of Nestlebrae Exotics, Helensville, Auckland.
In the notes following,
'A' indicates the amount of the more warm loving Musa acuminata
genes, and 'B' indicates the amount of the slightly more cool tolerant
balbisiana genetic background. M. acuminata and M.
have the normal double set of chromosomes, AA in M. acuminata's
case, and BB for M. balbisiana (i.e., they are 'diploid'). As a
consequence, they are fertile and set hard black pea sized seeds in the
fruit. In contrast, most eating bananas have an extra set of
('triploid'), which makes them infertile and seedless.
variety name isn't known, According to Nestlebrae
it "crops well, medium height, with good bunches tasting like
fruit sold in NZ. AAB"
Misi Luki - An
ladies finger type from Samoa, sold by Landsendt
Nursery as a good banana for Auckland. Landsendt have a small
plantation of this cultivar. Reliable. Recommended. AAB.
Misi Luki' -
India's main commercial banana, a medium size plant with moderately
attractive purply-pinkish blushed stems. Good flavor in a favorable
site, with a nice sugar acid balance. This banana demands the very
warmest site if it is to fruit and have good quality. Not recommended,
except for the most favorable warm and protected conditions. AAB.
Moa - 10 to15 feet/3-4.5m high, the banana are short and plump,
thin skinned, inclined to split and to tear off and fall when it is
ripe, very white fleshed, dense, sweet, without flouriness or
but astringent when it isn't fully ripe. It bears fairly reliably
in warm temperate areas, has good sized bunches, and in spite of
it's superior flavor and reliable productivity makes it a
A pleasant tasting, reliable and good cropping Australian Ladies Finger
type banana, sold by Bernard
King and Nestlebrae Exotics. The name is Samoan, and is said to derive
from 'Patterson". Probably
Pacha Nadaan - An
improved Australian Lady Finger type with good sized bunches, mild
similar to commercial fruit, with a thicker skin than the "Silk" types.
Reliable cropper. Known in southern Queensland as being wind resistant,
drought tolerant, and more tolerant of cool conditions than many. AAB.
Hamoa - named in
New Zealand, probably incorrectly. Almost certainly 'Apple'. Not the
'Hua Moa' above.
Good sized bunches of pleasant if unremarkable reasonably decent sized
fruit (for a New Zealand banana, that is). Tendency to split. AAB.
Dwarf Orinoco -
cold tolerant fairly reliable bearer with quite large ( 6 inch/150mm),
very sweet, angular, bright yellow, astringency free, soft fruit with a
rather distinct tough central 'core'. In cooler years the fruit can be
rather thin, with dense flesh and moderate sweetness, but they are
astringent. Worth a place in a collection.
in 1989, this banana was bred in Honduras specifically for the less
conditions of subtropical areas, so is definitely worth a try.The plant
is medium small, and the fruit is blunt ended and slightly tart.
to Nestlebrae Exotics, bunch size is fairly good, and the flavor is
but the bananas are not as plump as other short bananas. AAAB
tall variety, with a particularly marked flavor, small ('ladies
Ducasse/Pisang Awak -
is a particularly vigorous and hardy banana. It grows up to
high, and in subtropical conditions has up to 77lb/35kg bunches (less
New Zealand conditions) of tightly packed, small bananas with a light
bloom. Found to be relatively cool tolerant and vigorous in New Zealand
conditions, and relatively productive.
Harvest is about 17 months after planting, again, in subtropical
This is the most important banana of Thailand. (Note: it is somewhat
and if it is pollinated by other banana species it may have a few hard,
black seeds inside). In
spite of the seeds, strongly recommended for well sheltered sites. ABB.
bananas are the bananas of commerce grown in South America and the
and grow very tall-up to 18 ft/5.5m. Being so tall, they are subject to
blowing over when they are carrying their very heavy (to 100lb/45kg)
unless propped up. From planting to harvest is about 15 months in this
cultivar in the tropics. Poorly adapted to our warm temperate climate,
Cavendish is a giant mutation of the cultivar 'Dwarf
This is a common Australian commercial variety, and because tissue
plants are relatively readily available for importation, it is
as a nursery plant. It is 6½ -13ft/2-4m high, the fruit are
to 'Gros Michel', and in suitable conditions they are ready about 12
from planting. It's height makes it suceptible to wind damage, and it
one of the poorer performing cultivars in warm temperate areas (sap
is said to stop below 15 degrees celsius). AAA. Not recommended.
Chinese/Chinese a common variety in home gardens because of
relatively small size (8ft/2.5m) and tolerance to a wide range of
including cool. The bananas are essentially the same as 'Williams'.
to Panama disease. Needs warmer temperatures than the warm temperate
can provide. AAA. Not recommended.
as it's name suggests, is a very sweet banana; it has small fruit, thin
skin, yellowy flesh, and small bunches (up to 28½lb/13kg). The
are 8-11½ft/2.5-3.5m high, and prefer light shade. Planting to
is about 11 months under subtropical conditions. Unfortunately, this
is not well adapted to cooler temperatures. Not recommended.
is relatively drought hardy, wind resistant, fast growing, is up to
/5m high, and has short, slightly angular (not plump) fruit which
it has a little acidity as well as sugar) has a rich true banana
It has a tendency to have some undeveloped fruit in the bunch. While
to harvest is about 14 months under subtropical conditions it is longer
in warm temperate conditions. Because this variety is both tall and
slow to come into fruit when grown in warm temperate areas, it must be
regarded as a 'maybe', in spite of it's exceptionally good flavor. AAB.
is so called because the bunches of immature fruit are covered in a
bloom which gives them a blue-green caste. The plants grow to 13ft/4m
require staking), planting to harvest is about 14 months under
conditions. The fruit has particularly long stalks, are slightly
and have white flesh. Fruits
poorly in warm temperate areas in spite of its ABB makeup, not
There are at least 44
cultivars in New Zealand, but some may be identical varieties under a
The best one to grow may
simply be your friends or neighbours. If you come across a banana you
or it's owner recommends, simply get a spade and dig out a sucker. With
plenty of water in the hot weather, applying fertiliser regularly
, and starting with big healthy suckers it is possible to cut your
bunch within two years of planting. Once a clump is established, there
will virtually always be one or two stems fruiting. Once fruited, the
never flowers again, and needs to be cut down. It makes good mulch for
varieties JJJJ About
edible varieties are briefly described, with a photo of the plant or
fruit or flower, in the 'stokestropicals' catalogue pages
Banana varieties and planting instructions JJJJ
26 edible varieties are tabularly described with a photo of the fruit
the 'Aloha Tropicals' catalogue
Bananas in the New Zealand Home Garden JJJJ
own brief page on all the elements of growing bananas at home
cultivar photos JJJfrom
the University of Hawaii, around 15 cultivars in the archive, plus
pictures of the plant and flower
There is a species, Musa
basjoo, the Japanese Fibre Banana, being touted as " the world's
hardiest banana. It is hardy planted in ground to -3 degrees F. and
protective mulching, down to -20 degrees F". It is from Southern Japan,
and is usually grown for the fibre in the leaves, rather than the
The fruit are small and seedy, but edible.They have even been grown in
places such as Canada. The trick is to mulch the underground corm
so that it doesn't freeze over winter. It re-grows vigorously when
Daniells, Jeff, 1995.
Guide to the Identification of Banana Varieties in the South Pacific'
for International Agricultural Research, 1995.
Daniels, JW. 1986. 'Banana
cultivars in Australia'
Journal. Mar-April 1986. p 75-84.
J.C.Robinson, Bananas and
Plantains, Wallingford, U.K.: CAB International, 1996.
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