The Indian banana - an exotic fruit tree from North America

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The Indian banana (Asimia triloba) is called by the North American Indians Pawpaw (pronounced "Paupau") and belongs to the genus of Rahmapfelgewächse (Annonaceae). The deciduous, up to eight feet tall tree is native to eastern North America. It grows relatively slowly at around 30 centimeters per year and has large, more than 20 centimeters long, elongated leaves with a golden autumn color. The tree forms a relatively closed, highly oval crown with about 2.5 meters in diameter. The purple to rust-red bellflowers with petals slightly turned outwards appear in May and have several ovaries. The fruits ripen from August to the beginning of October. They sit to several specimens like a whorl of short fruit stalks and can be solved in a ripe state by gently turning from the tree.

For the fruits to mature well, the Indian banana needs a long, warm late summer, as prevails in the wine-growing climate. The right harvest time has come when the shell turns yellowish green. Since not all fruits are ripening at the same time, several picking cycles are usually necessary. Carefully place the harvested fruits in a basket, because they get bruised very easily.

Healthy ingredients

The Indian banana is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, proteins and various minerals like calcium, potassium and iron. It contains vitamin E and its vitamin C content is even higher than that of an apple. US researchers have also found that the fruits have a anticancer effect. The Central American up to 200-gram Indian banana was already appreciated by the North American Indians for their nutritional value and their healthy ingredients.

However, the German name is botanically misleading and is probably a neologism of creative marketing experts. The elongated fruit is more reminiscent of a papaya with its smooth, green-yellow shell and has yellow, creamy flesh. It is interspersed inside with large disc-shaped, brown-black kernels and tastes reminiscent of a tropical fruit cocktail of banana, pineapple, mango and vanilla. It is very soft and is scraped off with a spoon. Indian bananas can not be stored for a long time: they must be consumed or processed within a few days, as they quickly acquire a slightly fermented taste.
Tip: If you store the fruits in the refrigerator, you can delay the ripening process.

Indian banana blossom

Blossom of the Indian banana

Hardiness of the Indian banana

The Indian banana is sufficiently hardy in our latitudes as an open field plant. It can easily withstand frosts below -20 degrees Celsius. The trunks of young trees, however, easily get frost cracks at minus degrees and winter sun, so you should provide the plants with a white coat in time in autumn or shade the trunks with a reed or fleece cuff.

Autumn staining of the Indian banana

In autumn, the leaves of the Indian banana stain

Soil and location

The location of the Indian banana should be sunny, but not too hot. The best soil is a moderately moist, sandy loam. Pure sandy soils should be enriched with compost to improve their structure. Drought does not tolerate the Indian banana, so the soil must be kept slightly moist if necessary by additional watering.

Cultivation and sorting tips

Since most varieties of Indian bananas rely on cross-pollination, you should always plant two different varieties. The varieties 'Sunflower' and 'Prima' are reasonably self-fertile, but they also bring in cross-pollination significantly higher yields. Since the insect species needed for pollination do not occur in Central Europe, hobby gardeners should simply lend a hand themselves: Remove some pollen from the stamen of a plant with a small brush or a cotton swab and dab it onto the flower stigmas of the other plant. Three years usually pass before the first harvest. After eight to ten years, yields of more than ten kilograms per tree are to be expected.

Indian banana tree

The Indian banana forms a broad-oval crown and throws off its foliage in the fall

The Indian banana does not need a special cut. In experiments in Veitshöchheim, the so-called spindle tree has proven itself as a form of education. All side shoots on the main drive usually remain uncut. Too steep side shoots should either remove or tie down at an angle of about 60 degrees. If you want to prevent the plant from becoming too tall, you can cut the main shoot at a height of about three meters. From August you should remove any leaves that cast shadows on the fruit so they can recharge enough sun to ripen.
For cultivating in the garden different varieties are recommended: In addition to the self-fertile varieties 'Sunflower' and 'Prima' also 'Overleese' has left a good impression in cultivation trials. Their large fruits contain relatively few seeds and have an excellent aroma. By the way: If you do not have a garden, the Indian banana can also be kept in a large bucket on the balcony. It then becomes about three meters high and must be winterized in the house cool and frost-free, so that the pot ball does not freeze. Because the root space is limited, you should water Indian bananas in the bucket up to twice a day in the summer.

Asiminator Paw Paw

Paw Paw fruit

When the shell lightens slightly, the pawpaw fruits are ripe. Then remove the seeds and spoon the fruit out

Expert Interview: Indian bananas (pawpaws) are also growing here

Erich Kiefer

Erich Kiefer cultivates exotic fruits in Ortenberg, Baden

Which varieties do you particularly recommend for growing in the garden?
"The most productive varieties include 'Sunflower' and 'Prima.' If you have enough space in the garden, you should definitely plant two different varieties, pollination by foreign pollen ensures fertilization and increases yield."
What is important in planting?
"The frost-hard fruit is widespread from North America to Mexico and tolerates temperatures of -25 degrees C. The decorative purple bells bloom only in May and are therefore hardly damaged by late frosts, because the fruits ripen with us only from mid or late September I recommend a sunny spot, although pawpaws do not demand much from the ground, but they do not tolerate waterlogging. "
When do you plant pawpaws?
"The best planting season is in autumn or early spring, because the young plants are potted because of the taproots, you can extend the planting time until May.At this you should know that pawpaws anyway grow very slowly.The trees form a pyramidal crown and are after six years about three meters high. "
How do you recognize the right harvest time?
"When picking ripe fruit, the grassy green shell lightens a bit, then softens slightly and gently separates from the branch After harvesting, pawpaws can be stored in the refrigerator for another week. remove the thick seeds and spoon the creamy-soft flesh out of the shell, and the aroma of banana, mango and passion fruit is also good in quark dishes, yoghurt or in the cheesecake. "

Video Board: 15 World’s Strangest Fruits.

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