Banana – Misi Luki

A great banana for Auckland is the Samoan Misi Luki, whose creamy-textured fruit hang in bunches of 200 or more and can weigh over twenty kilos at harvest.

Bananas are gross-feeders. They need lots of animal manure and mulch to produce well. Bananas need a sprinkling of wood ashes every Spring which improves fruit numbers, size and quality. They need lots of moisture through Summer, good wind-shelter and minimal frost.

In warm weather, bananas grow at an astonishing rate; a new two to three metre leaf every week through Summer.

Most bananas fruit in NZ after eighteen to twenty two months. They will survive light frost once established, re-growing rapidly from the base if damaged.

If bananas are not managed properly, they can be a tangled and unsightly mess. After harvesting a bunch, cut the spent stem off at ground-level. Only allow two new suckers to grow each year and remove the rest. If excess suckers are not removed they compete with each other, lose vigour and stop fruiting.

Bananas must be planted in Spring and Summer when soil is warm. They have no particular fruiting season, but flower after about 42 leaves regardless of season. If they flower in late Autumn the fruit will not develop properly in the cold months so it pays to cover the bunch with a coloured plastic bag for the Winter, open at the bottom like a raincoat. This keeps the fruit warmer and stops bird and rat damage as they develop.

The Misi Luki was introduced into NZ in the early 1970’s by Albert Peters. He was married to a Samoan lady and had access to many tropical fruits which he trialled at his Mangere Bridge property. A tropical oasis in suburbia, a real oddity in the 70’s.

Its namesake ‘Misi Luki’ is a missionary Mr Lucas. They couldn’t pronounce his name properly so he was called Misi Luki. I’m not sure why they named the banana after him.

The variety is native to India however it became a popular and commercial crop in Samoa. The reason it does so well in NZ is because it is from the high altidude regions of Samoa. Most bananas are less cold tolerant.

The above information is taken from 2 web pages:
http://www.landsendt.co.nz/Site/Garden_tours_Arboretum/Arboretum/Plants_with_interesting_stories.ashx
http://www.subtropical.co.nz/writingBanana06.html

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