As a voracious reader of horticultural books, I have sought to add to my library those which offer information not readily available from other sources.

Bananas - Photo by Oren Elbaz on Unsplash

I think that I, as many gardeners, often become involved with certain families of plants and want to absorb as much information as possible about those particular groups.

by John Bagnasco

Like an artist, I have been through many of these stages. There was my palm period, my euphorbia period, my daylily period, my tropicals period and my rose period among many more that are too esoteric to admit in print.

During these collecting binges, I have found that there has always been information available, if I looked hard enough. Finding obscure facts always provided a two-edged sense of exhilaration. On the one hand, I was happy to just have the new found aspects. On the other hand, there was a sense of relief to have found that I was not “alone”, that there was someone else on the planet who shared my yearnings.

Stokes and Waddick have written a most informative book on the subject of bananas.Bananas You Can Grow is perhapsthe best and most informative writing on the subject that has ever been put forth to the average gardener. The authors make us aware of the many types of fruiting and flowering bananas. Some species are even hardy enough to grow in temperate climates, while others are very tender and need almost tropical conditions. Aside from detailed descriptions of dozens of varieties, there are “Quick Views” of the cultivars that help compare and select the best types for certain growing conditions.

Of course, some gardeners might argue that The Complete Book of Bananas is mor informative, but both are great references. If growing tropical fruits is of interest, here are a few that I have in my library and find useful:

Alll of the above are good, but in Tropical Fruits and Other Edible Plants of the World, Rolf Blancke includes all the common species and features many lesser known species, including mangosteen and maca, as well as many rare species such as engkala, sundrop, and the mango plum. Some of these rare species will always remain of little importance because they need an acquired taste to enjoy them, they have too little pulp and too many seeds, or they are difficult to package and ship. Blancke highlights some fruits―the araza (Eugenia stipitata) and the nutritious peach palm (Bactris gasipaes) from the Amazon lowlands, the Brunei olive (Canarium odontophyllum) from Indonesia, and the remarkably tasty soursop (Annona muricata) from Central America―that deserve much more attention and have the potential to become commercially important in the near future.