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Musa williams hybrid

June 16, 2005

Any information on this cultivar would be appreciated - fruiting height, min temp, general robustness, etc. Thanks.

Comments (14)

  • mauryc

    See the link and scroll down.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Look Here

  • pitangadiego

    Mine is flowering for the first time. It has about 6' of trunk. So far nanners look to be smallish, but only a couple hands are showing yet. Pix soon.

  • Paul3

    Thank you both. It's available here (UK) at a nursery and I was just wondering whether it was worth a go.

  • banyan

    Hi Paul,

    First up, we need to clear up some confusion on this one. 'Williams' is an Australian selection, selected at about the same time as 'Mons Mari'. The two selections now form the basis of the Aussie commercial banana industry. There is a lot of confusion, and it is reasonably likely that the two are actually the same thing, any differences in form beaing attributable to differnces in climate and management.

    'Williams Hybrid' is actually not a hybrid at all, it is a sterile clone. The 'hybrid' part somehow got added to the name in the early days of Aussie banana growing, and was related to trying to avoid confusion with the two previous commercial cultivars, the very short Dwarf Cavendish (known in the Aussie trade as 'Cavendish'), and the tall Gros Michel. You will find many websites claiming 'Williams' and 'Wiliams hybrid' are different cv.s, but this is incorrect. Aussies spend a lot of time mkaing life difficult for themselves, 'Blue Gum' for example is a name given to at least 10 different species of Eucalyptus, with bananas they've gone the other way and given a multitude of names to the same plant.

    I've spent several years working with bananas in Austrlia with my in-laws, who are commercial growers there. Thye now grow solely 'Lady Finger', but when I first visited they had mainly williams, so I got to know the cultivar fairly well.

    Williams is a tall dwarf cav. type. Pseudostem on a well grown plant in commercial conditions in the subtropics is around 3m. In the true tropics they grow faster and produce less leaves before bunching, giving them a shorter stature of usually around 2.5m. Bunches can be large, I've handled bunches weighing in at 80kg, which makes life hard going. They are extremely productive.

    Climatically they need heat. The plants at my in-laws farm suffered badly from cold in the subtropical winter, and developed 'November dump', where any fruit initiated during winter was badly deformed and seen in november after ripening. Winter fruit was 'stale', and never developed as good a flavour as summer fruit. Winter at their place has average night time lows around 10C, and day time temperatures consistently in the early/mid twenties, there are fruiting coconut palms in the area.

    Fruit is damaged if the air temperature ever drops below 12C during the cycle, the longer and lower below 12C, the worse the damage.

    Some people are trying to grow this cv. here in New Zealand. I have not heard about a single example of a decent bunch being produced here, and my trials with it were totally unsuccessful. My plants died in the winter at the same time as other cv.s such as Misi Luki, Goldfinger etc ripened quite good fruit.

    My conclusion for you is this; This is a heat-loving cv. that cannot handle cold at all. It is too tall for anything other than a huge greenhouse, and will not perform at all outside except in a climate that is at least subtropical. It died for me in a totally frost free climate when nighttimes started falling consistenly below 10C, and nights below 20C. It will handle cold nights (above 0C) provided it has warm (20C+) days, but will not produce quality fruit in those conditions.

    Hope this helps.

  • Paul3

    Hi banyan,
    That certainly did help, thanks so much. My God, if you read the nursery comments on it, you'd laugh.

    Banyan, do you have any recommendation for cultivars most suited to UK conditions - that is under glass with no heat other than natural? Thanks again.

  • joereal

    I have a tissue cultured Williams Hybrid banana, and it gets down to -5 deg C here during the winter. It loses all its leaves during the winter, but not the trunk. The trunk remains alive through the winter, but I held off all watering during the winter and have covered its base to keep the rain away. It is one of my bananas that are the last ones to keep their leaves before severe frosts will kill off the leaves. In Hawaii, the Williams are planted at a much higher elevation than the cavendishes. I have dwarf cavendish, grand nain, these are closely related to Williams in terms of taste, but these bananas are not as cold tolerant, and their stems die back to the ground level during winter and when spring comes, there are numerous pups around, so fruiting is impossible unless you plant them in the greenhouse. So I am convinced that Williams is cold hardy in our area and is able to bear fruit. I am not expecting heavy bunches of course, the plant blooms only at 6 ft tall, but there are just enough fruits to beam with pride, and these are lovely plants in our Japanese style narrow sideyard.

    It gets to as low as 9 deg C and as high as 43 deg C during the summer.

  • banyan

    JOereal, you said

    "In Hawaii, the Williams are planted at a much higher elevation than the cavendishes

    This really adds to the confusion, they ARE cavendishs! Presumably this means higher than Valery/Robusta or one of the other Cav strains they grow there. I've spoken about this to the banana experts in QLD and NSW state governemnts, and they've both said that all the cav types are essentially the same thing with mutations creating the differences we see. If you've got a Williams that handles cold better than other Cavendish types, then you're on to a winner. It may be a mutation for cold tolerance, if it has been in N Ca for a while. Also of course, your long hot summer helps a lot in keeping bananas alive for a shorter winter, even if quite cold at the time.

    Paul, you want somethign as short as possible, as bananas tend to grow at least 30% taller under cover than outside because of better growing conditions, and as bananas are naturally taller in colder climates (ie true subtropical) than in warmer ones (ie equatorial/ warm tropical) due to the increased number of leaves they develop in colder sites. Dwarf Cav types have the advantage of short stature and big bunches. Other dwarfs like Orinoco, rajapuri etc are certainly more cold tolerant, but in my opinion inferior as regards taste, and certainly have smaller bunches. Possibly in UK though you might go for these beacuse of their cold tolerance. D. Orinoco is very cold tolerant in California, but also need that Ca. heat to perform. They are not good here in my cooler summers (daytimes usually below 30C). It will depend on just how cold and hot it gets inside your greenhouse.

  • joereal

    Banyan, thanks for the info about Williams hybrid and your clarifications, they are invaluable and have included your statements as reference in my database of all of my bananas. If you look at my bananas on my web page in this forum, take a look at picture number 7 of 35. I have a Williams hybrid in early winter, notice that the grasses have died due to frost, and the grape leaves are all brown, in fact all the leaves of the peaches are long gone, my Musa basjoos leaves have already fried (it was in the open space though), and yet the Williams have intact leaves. It was during February when they lost their leaves, but the trunks remain. I will soon post picture of the bloom from the same plants. These plants are potted and I buried the pots in the soil to prevent them from pupping too much. Perhaps these are cold hardy mutations, or simply well protected by the eaves of the house in a west side wall. Another possibility is that the bananas could have been mislabeled and perhaps may be Valery or other cold tolerant types. For sure it is not Dwarf Orinoco nor Raja Puri, doesn't look like Dwarf Brazilian nor Goldfinger, although it has similar stem color as my Misi Luki, but the Misi Luki are at least 16' when they bloom, the one that I've got bloomed at only 6'. Perhaps when the fruit ripens then I will know for sure.

  • Paul3

    banyan, thanks for the tips. I have rajapuri and it seems to have stalled. It grew in early spring, but is now moving at a glacial rate. No idea why. Completely off topic, just how many points do you think the All Blacks are going to put on the Lions?

    JoeReal, super pics.

  • banyan


    Does your williams have a distinct red area underneath the leaf on the trunk? This plant looks a lot more yellow than Williams I'm familiar with, with have the distinctive cavendish blotches in the leaves and largely red pseudostems. Also it is a lot taller and thinner than I'd expect, Williams tend to be quite squat. Possibly this is just due to being potted. I cant get enough clarity in the picture to see exactly what the sucker looks like, but overall this banana looks more like a Misi Luki to me, which could explain its cold tolerance....

    Paul, my wife is an Aussie, my brother-in-law is English, its easier for me to not make guesses like that. But the Lions got pretty thrashed agains the Maoris the other day, must have been a bit of ablow to the old ego. We have 4 million people in this country, you'd think with your wider population to draw from we shouldn't have a chance. Not so... :-)

  • Paul3

    banyan, is it possible that there are plants out there being traded wrongly named Williams? I'm thinking maybe the plant I've seen offered is something else.

    Switching to rugby briefly - NZ may only have 4 million people, but if most live and breathe the game, you going get the great teams you've been producing for decades.

    But, you know, Woodward may sprinkle the old magic dust. I mean any man who could make England world champs....

    Paul, in a very warm UK.

  • banyan

    Paul, yes, most of the bananas in the trade are misnamed. You need ot go to either a Qovernmental Agriculture agency or a very enthusiastic grower to get something true to name. Many nurserys sell everything as 'banana', or else just bung on any old lable that is lying around. This is certainly true in NZ and USA, not sure about UK.

    Your 'barmy army' guys don't drink as much in NZ as they do at home...why? I could do with some warmth, its almost midwinter here, and daytimes are cold, only got to 17C yesterday. Last week we even got a night down to 3C, almost as cold as I expect this year. I need a big greenhosue to get my bananas really growing!

    I admit to being a NZer with limited interest in rugby. Sounds like a contradiction in terms I know, but there's something rediculous about a bunch of really big guys being paid huge amounts of money to chase a small ball around a football field.

  • Paul3

    Okay, banyan, I'll can the rugby chat. It is a musa forum, after all! You know, I'm thinking of having a punt on that Williams (or whatever it may be). I'm figuring if the cultivar they have is true Williams they would have spotted its tropical requirements and withdrawn it. I'm going to email them and ask for their observations on the plant. I'm hoping it may have the durability of Joereal's plant.

    Barmy army not drinking much? They may be drowning their sorrows soon enough.

  • rug13y

    Hi Banyan

    How would this Williams do in somewhere like Kalgoorlie where we do get a heck of a lot of heat but does drop to -2C in winter on a few nights?

    By the way on the rugby front, League is my game, and the Warriors did well beating Brisbane Broncos over the weekend!

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