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One of the most memorable sites in my life was a view 20 years ago from an airplane window leaving the airport at Honolulu Hawaii- A giant field of Aeae Banana trees. The exotic variegation and striping of white and green leaves fluttered in the wind generated from planes landing and leaving Oahu Island Airport. The name, Aeae, in Hawaiian dialect means ??????graying of hair prematurely.???? Internet chatter and hubris tells us that bananas are not native to islands in Hawaii, and that the Aeae may have been brought in from Indonesia centuries ago, however, there is no credible, authoritative evidence that can be found to confirm this, nor the claim that the Aeae bananas were grown only to feed Hawaiian royalty at alli feast.
The white and green variegated banana tree, Aeae is considered to be one of the rarest and therefore most extensive commercially available plant offerings for sale on the internet. There are several reasons for the scarcity, the main reason being the extreme demand for spectacular specimen plants. The Aeae banana unfortunately is impossible to duplicate by tissue culture or seed propagation. The Aeae Banana Tree is extremely sensitive to temperatures below 70 degrees F. and should not be recommended for growing year-round except in zones 9-11, unless grown inside a well lit, warm home or greenhouse.
There are several strains of Aeae Banana clones that are offered for sale for online purchase, however, there is no obvious recognizable difference in the botanical names from vendors to ensure what clone is the best or different from the other advertized vendor clones. The most important difference for a buyer of Aeae bananas is that the plant will produce stable variegated offsets. Many vendors of this plant have variable clones that frequently produce offsets that may be all green, others variable with variegation steaks or sectors, and still others that produce all-white, albino offsets that once after detachment from the mother bulb, will die from the lack of chlorophyl in the pseudostem and leaf canopy. Ty Ty Nursery has grown the Aeae banana trees for more than 20 years and has yet to see an offset grown that produced unstable pups that resulted in all green, or albino types.
As a mature plant grown outside in the state of Georgia, the Aeae banana tree reaches a top height of 12 feet but in warmer zones has been reported to exceed 18 feet in height. The leaves can grow 8 feet long and 2 feet wide. The tree grows rapidly from June through September and grows vigorously, as rapidly as most other banana cultivars. A surprising fact since most variegated plants are dwarf or show lower vigor that their green counterparts, explained by the presence of less concentrated chlorophyl in the leaves. This fact creates a mysterious paradox that cannot be explained by academic plant physiology.
The Aeae banana tree responds dramatically to high fertilization at Ty Ty Nursery, where we use ammonium nitrate, super phosphate, and 40 percent potash. The trees are heavily watered in the morning and in late afternoon, and even though the Aeae is grown in full sun, the leaves show no serious scorching in the white sections of variegation, perhaps because of the cooling effects of twice watering.
The Aeae banana tree is truly meant for only serious plant collectors who are wiling to adopt a demanding plant into his family. This unique landscape specimen will demand babying every day for an ornamental rewarding attention getter tree with the striking white and green coloration in the leaves. The Aeae banana tree grows very well in a soil pH of 5 to 6.