British Columbia

That's bananas! Vancouver's hot summer yields tropical fruit

After four years of careful cultivation, Antonio Zullo's banana plant has flowered and developed fruit. He says it's because of climate change and a tree expert doesn't disagree.

After 4 years of careful cultivation, Antonio Zullo's banana plant has flowered and developed fruit

Some of the green bananas growing on Antonio Zullo's four-year-old banana tree. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

After four years of cultivation, a Vancouver man's banana plant has flowered and developed fruit, something he never thought was possible because of the city's climate.

"Not in Vancouver," said Antonio Zullo. "I mean I got the plant because it's nice, it's tropical. I never thought I'd see that in Vancouver, absolutely not."

There aren't many places in the world where you see a banana plant growing up along a cedar hedge. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

Zullo started growing the plant from a shoot, and at his home after taking a shoot from a banana plant at his previous residence.

Each winter he carefully covers it to protect if from the cold. It's now about two metres tall.

"Maybe the climate's warmer," said Zullo after being asked why he thinks the plant has flowered and produced fruit. "But it's been a great summer and I'm hoping it stays like this for another month so I can actually eat some."

Antonio Zullo says he was completely surprised to return from a summer holiday to find bananas on his banana plant. He hopes the fruit will ripen so he can eat it with his family. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

David Tracey, author of the book Vancouver Tree Book, and an environmental designer and community ecologist says it's uncommon for bananas to produce fruit here, because our summers are not long or hot enough for the plant.

It has happened before, however, including in Abbotsford, B.C., two years ago.

Tracey expects to see more.

"With climate change here, and we can see it happening, there are more and more things that we can grow now that we didn't used to be able to in years past," said Tracey, citing pawpaw trees and persimmons.

A flower on Antonio Zullo's banana plant. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

He also says that growers who have long cultivated fig trees are now more consistently getting better crops from the plants

"We're stretching the border, it's kind of moving north of what we once thought was too cold to grow," he said.

Bananas, technically a berry, were first domesticated in Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea but are now also grown as a commercial crop across Latin America, the Caribbean, and parts of Africa.

With files from Nic Amaya

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