Blue Java bananas come to fruition at last

Five years ago I swapped a sucker of my Ducasse bananas for a Blue Java sucker. I promptly put it in the ground and waited, and was disappointed, and waited, and was frustrated as detailed here.

I kept on waiting, however, and my patience has finally been rewarded – but only just. A trunk grew to a decent height, flowered and formed a fair-sized bunch which wasn’t taken by possums. Fortunately, it was close enough to maturity before the trunk collapsed a couple of weeks ago that the fruit ripened afterwards.

Its metre-tall sucker had died a few weeks earlier, and a small new sucker from that grew to about 30 cm and then died; not a success, then.

The Lady Finger suckers (from this long-established plantation) I have put into that patch have all died, too, whereas a couple of them I have put into pots are doing okay, so maybe the location is part of the problem. I will try again elsewhere with a chunk of the root.

Blue java bananas
Immature Blue Java bananas (foreground) contrasting with similarly immature Ducasse
Blue java bananas
Success! The Blue Java fruit when involuntarily harvested

The fruit are big! They are not as long a a Cavendish but they are so fat that one is more than enough for a snack. I suspect that the fatness is responsible for a peculiarity of the texture, i.e., the centre of the fruit is still quite firm when the outside is soft-ripe.

Blue java bananas
Three just-ripe and one nearly-ripe fruit with an apple for comparison

Ducasse banana seed – an exceptionally rare find

As most of us know, all of our cultivated bananas are sterile clones and those little black dots in the middle of the fruit are immature seeds which will never develop. Getting a real seed out of a cultivated banana is a really rare event, as we realise immediately when we think about how many bananas we have eaten and how few seeds we have found.

I have been growing Ducasse (sugar) bananas in my back yard for twenty-odd years, occasionally with other varieties, and I hadn’t come across a mature seed in all those years until six weeks ago when I found one seed in each of two bananas from the same bunch. One seed crunched between my teeth but I managed to save the other – roundish, blackish and about 4mm long. Continue reading “Ducasse banana seed – an exceptionally rare find”

The Fruit that Changed the World

Banana the fruit that changed the world - cover imageFive years ago I wrote a post celebrating our backyard bananas and lamenting the vulnerability of the commercial crop. Several more posts since then have touched on the dangerous lack of genetic diversity of the endlessly-cloned Cavendish (especially Wild bananas) and a book I picked up in our Balinese guesthouse recently refocused my attention on the issue.

Banana: the Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World by Dan Koeppel (2007) does for our favourite fruit what Longitude and Krakatoa do for navigation and our favourite volcano Continue reading “The Fruit that Changed the World”