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Banana Keiki

Bananas produce year-round and are a dependable, easy-to-grow staple of a tropical diet.  We offer about 20 varieties of bananas, including common bananas like Apple and Williams, connoisseur desert bananas like Silk Fig, Sucré, and Thai, cooking bananas that can also be eaten raw, like Plantain, Vundi, or "Primordial", and rare and unusual bananas like "Ikaika," Ice Cream, and Cuban Reds.

Banana heights are measured from the ground to the bottom of the leaves (which is also where the fruit stalk emerges at maturity).

Note: Bananas names listed in quotations are original names created locally in Kapoho for species of unidentified bananas.

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Apple, Dwarf (Brazilian):  A short, sturdy plant (5-10 ft.).  The fruit is shorter and stubbier looking than the Tall Apple.  Sweet taste with a slight zing and firm texture.  An excellent staple banana.  Very common at local markets.

Apple, Tall (Hawaiian):  A taller version of the Brazilian Apple banana, towering overhead from 15-20 ft. tall.  This banana produces big bunches that take skill and space to harvest.  An excellent staple banana and a major variety in the local banana economy.  Taste is very similar to Brazilian Apple. 

Bluefield:  A taller (12-15 ft.) banana, with large bunches and large fruit.  Similar to Williams, with a more subtle flavor.  This banana is not widely planted, so we have a limited supply of keiki.

Cuban Red, Dwarf:  A dwarf version of the Tall Cuban Red (see below).  Same color and quality of fruit, but on a 5-10 ft. stalk.  They also take less time to make fruit than the Tall Cuban Red.

Cuban Red, Tall:  A very ornamental, maroon-colored banana (plant and fruit).  All the Cuban bananas have a special taste.  They're a thick banana, yet they have a delicate, light feeling to them.  This variety is on the tall side (15-20 ft.) and takes up to three years to make a bunch of bananas on a shoot, making them one of the least productive bananas.  Nonetheless, they're worth having around for the beauty and taste.

Cuban Yellow, Tall:  Similar in size and taste and speed of productivity to the Tall Cuban Red, but these are a green-colored plant with yellow bananas.  Perhaps a bit more delicious than the reds and a bit faster to produce medium-to-large-size bunches.

"Donkey" (Cooking):  A semi-dwarf, open-bunched, easy-to-harvest, cooking banana with small-to-medium bunches.  These bananas, like Orinoco (?), produce a large, curved, pointy banana that can also be eaten raw.  They're a bit mushy when ripe, on the less-sweet side, and thick-skinned.

Ice Cream (Dessert):  A popular, specialty banana that's eaten when it's soft and mushy, hence the name "Ice Cream."  They're a semi-dwarf banana, about 6-10 ft. tall with medium-size bunches.  The fruit are short and somewhat angular-shaped (like many cooking bananas).  Skins are thin and edible.  Most people let these bananas ripen beyond the stage that most common bananas are considered edible.  Their one drawback is the tendency for the plants to fall over in the field.  Every fruiting stalk must be staked up (unless you're in heavy soils).

"Ikaika":  This is a semi-dwarf, very sturdy banana with large bunches, big pinkish flesh fruit, and a cream-and-light-green stalk.   It's quite ornamental.  We don't know the origins of this banana, but it's worth having in a collection, once the basics are covered.  We have only one mat in production, so keiki are limited.

Orinoco ? (1/2 ice cream – 1/2 cooking):  A dwarf, open-bunched, easy-to-harvest, cooking banana with medium bunches.  Plants are stout, sturdy, and tightly clumping.  These bananas, like "Donkey" bananas, produce a large, curved, pointy banana that can also be eaten raw.  They're a bit mushy when ripe, less sweet than Ice Cream bananas, and thick-skinned.

Plantain (Cooking):  The most common cooking banana.  Medium-size plants fruiting at 8-12 ft. with smallish bunches of very large bananas.  Many people enjoy letting plantains turn completely black and then eating them raw, often cutting them into somewhat crunchy slices with a knife.

"Primordial" (Cooking):  A very tall (20-25 ft.), tight-bunched, cooking banana with short, somewhat-flattened fruit, giant trunks, and prehistoric stature. These might be the same variety as Cardaba.  Bunches are large and heavy.  The fruit is kind of chewy and starchy.  Though not too sweet, they are quite satisfying and filling, with a unique flavor and consistency.  Their one drawback is that sometimes whole bunches will be diseased and inedible.  But they're worth the risk just for their presence as plants.

Silk Fig (Dessert):  One of the best-tasting dessert bananas available in Hawaii.  Plants are 7-12 ft. high with medium-size bunches.  Fruits are smallish and mostly round, and the skin is thin and edible.  They have a wonderful taste and consistency.  If you're only going to plant one banana, this is an excellent choice.  After Apple and Williams, probably the most-planted commercial banana on small farms.

"Stout" (Dwarf Cooking): A stout and sturdy, semi-dwarf banana, fruiting at 6-10 ft.  Flesh is quite pinkish and good to eat raw or cooked.  The bunches are large and ornamental, with a unique, pointy, star-like fruiting pattern.  This banana is rare in Hawaii, with only a handful of mats in production.

Sucré  (Dessert):  “Sucré” is French for sugar. This medium-height, tight-bunched banana is likened to banana-bread by many of its loyal fans. This is certainly the sweetest banana around. The bananas are 3” – 4” long, rounded, with delicate speckles and thin, edible skin. They’re ready to eat when they’re very ripe, even turning black, and somewhat soft. Plants are reddish with medium size bunches. Their one drawback is that over the years the mats tend to rise and then plants fall over. Plants then need propping and to be replanted at a lower depth. For most bananas this would be too much trouble; for Sucré, it’s worth it.

"Thai" (Dessert):  The premier, connoisseur, dessert banana of Thailand! Best eaten when it’s very ripe, it’s a perfect combination of sweetness, flavor, texture, and productivity. Known to the Thai as “Klouy Kai” (translates as egg banana), this extremely desirable banana will probably become the most-popular dessert banana in Hawaii. The plants are 8-12 ft tall and densely-packed with 3”-5” long, round fruits, on medium-large bunches. Whether you’re going to have a few banana plants or dozens, we highly recommend including the Thai banana in your collection. Only a few mats in production, so supply is limited.

Vundi (Fijian Cooking):  A medium-height, cooking banana from Fiji.  Fruit is wide and round, with pinkish-orange flesh.  Eaten raw, they are tasty when allowed to ripen sufficiently.  Good cooked as well.  Bunches are medium-size.  Each banana is very wide, round, and about 5" - 7" long. Plants are handsome and the fruit is quite ornamental when hanging.

Williams, Dwarf ("Chinese Dwarf"):  A very short (3-6 ft.) banana that makes medium-to-large bunches similar to the standard, supermarket banana.  The fruits themselves are a bit smaller than the taller Williams.  Wonderful around the garden or structures, due to their stature and safety in harvesting.

Williams (Semi-Dwarf):  This highly-productive banana has the biggest bunches and largest fruits available in Hawaii.  The plants are 5-10 ft. tall and bunches can weigh more than an average person can lift alone.  Though the taste is not as interesting as some of the smaller "exotic" bananas, its sheer volume of production makes it most desirable for any yard or homestead.


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