Here is a guide on the cultivation and uses of Babaco. Babaco is an herbaceous high yielding shrub native to Ecuador. The tree produces only female flowers and about 40 to 60 fruits annually. The fruits are oblong in shape, green unripe, yellow when ripe and seedless.
The shrub can tolerate some cold and it is found in high altitude regions. The shrub is ideal for greenhouse cultivation as a container plant. It has soft edible skin and propagation is achieved through rooting axillary shoots. The shoots are cut and apical leaf kept.
A relative of papaya it has a smooth edible skin. Used in many culinary dishes it is native to Ecuador. Major producers are Italy, Colombia, Chile, California, Channel Island and New Zealand.
- Channel Island
- New Zealand
Facts about Babaco
The plant has large deeply lobed dark green leaves. The flowers are bell-shaped with dark green sepals, white petals. It is propagated by rooting axillary shoots and grows in subtropical climate. The small herbaceous shrub grows 3 meters and produces 40 to 60 fruits.
- propagated by rooting axillary shoots
- A small herbaceous shrub
- Plant height 3 meters
- Green unripe, yellow ripe
- Fruits elongated, measures 30 cm, weigh 2kg
- bares 30 to 50 fruits a year.
- Grows subtropical climate
The fruit is seedless, smooth skin edible with a moderate sweetish taste. It is used to make fruit salads, cocktail drinks, served with sugar seasoning and refrigerated.
Some people use it in fruit pies, jam and fruit smoothies A popular dish in India that uses the fruit is Green babaco chutney.
Uses of Babaco
- Fruit salads
- Cocktail drinks
- Fruit pies
- Fruit smoothies
- Green babaco chutney.
The soil should be well-drained with organic matter, compost or manure. Regular addition of fertilizer is required through the growth period. Poultry farmers can introduce chicken manure, a borehole or well for watering.
Mulching is used to regulate the soil temperature but keep it away from stem. Make sure the water is clean and avoid seawater. They grow easily in potted container or flowering pot with drainage holes.
The demography is important to the success of the shrub. It requires slightly humid climate, adequate sunlight and protect from strong winds. Frosty climate is bad for the tree however it can tolerate moderate cold.
The babaco tree would produce 40 to 50 fruits annually. The fruit measures 30cm and weighs about 2kg.The average lifespan is from 7 to 8 years and they fruit every year.
The tree has only female flowers and truck consists of long leafy stalks. Once flowering takes place the fruits are set straight and rapidly expands into a pentagonal shape. The fruits resemble the pawpaw fruits in coloration and shape.
The bottom half of the fruit attached to the stem is rounded tapering down to a narrow point. The fruit starts out green and yellow starts to show as it ripens.
The yellow gradually spreads to the entire fruit. Once green with yellow patches or yellow it is ripe for hand picking. The ripening fruits starts in an ascending order from bottom to top.
The only way to grow babaco shrub is through propagation. The small herbaceous shrub has a semi-ligneous trunk, 3 meters high.
The fruits are seedless so cutting is the only way. Cut a branch and dry for a few days before planting. Another method is to use stem selection and trees crop 10 months after planting.
Make sure you remove any shoot near the base of the plant. A normal practice is to allow one shoot germinate as a replacement plant for the parent. Allow only one major truck to grow and space them accordingly.
Pests and Diseases
The plant is rugged and resistant to pests and diseases. However overwatering would cause the leaves to turn yellow and the tree will die.