Mountain banana: cultivation guide


The mountain banana (Asimina triloba, L.) is an exotic tree native to the part eastern United States, between Mississippi, Nebraska, Canada and South Carolina.

Throughout this area, the plant has developed spontaneously from very ancient times: the first evidence of its existence dates back to the 1500s, from a writing by the explorer Hernando de Soto which reports its existence on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Today, the mountain banana tree is a species at risk of extinction in several areas, especially in New Jersey and in particular New York, due to the different climatic conditions from the past.

So let's see how to cultivate this precious ancient fruit with numerous beneficial properties.

The mountain banana is a fruit tree also known as P.awPaw, nickname attributed by the Native Americans who cultivated it, asimina, northern banana, Indian banana and Hoosier banana.

Although its fruits are called bananas, the mountain banana it does not belong to a family of tropical plants.

It grows in fact in the undergrowth of forests with tall trees, such as oaks and walnuts, and thrives only in cold and temperate climates, but does not tolerate high temperatures.

The tree reaches anmaximum height of about 6 meters as an adult. Its peculiarity lies in the leaves, large, lanceolate and hanging, green in summer and yellow in autumn.

THE flowers, equally large, are dark purple, cup-shaped. The fruits ripen at the end of summer, and each flower can produce a maximum of four.

The fruit it has an elongated shape and smooth skin; the color can change according to the variety, going from green to yellow, and the weight of each fruit ranges from 100 to 250 grams.

The inner pulp is edible and the flavor resembles a cross between a mango and a banana. The color of the pulp varies from orange to yellow. The seeds inside are distributed in two rows.

Mountain banana land

Like most fruit trees, Asimina also prefers a deep, moist and well-drained soil, although it develops discreetly even on clayey and sandy soils.

The water stagnation it is absolutely to be avoided. Although the mountain banana does not have an important root system, the latter must be protected from any rot caused by excessive irrigation.

The roots they are the Achilles heel of this plant. Particular attention must also be paid when working the soil or transplanting: damage to the roots could compromise the development of the entire plant.

As for the pH, the plant prefers neutral or sub-acid soils, with a pH value from 5.5 to 7. It does not tolerate calcareous soils well.

Climate and mountain banana exposure

The climate plays a fundamental role in the growth of the mountain banana. In fact, many make the mistake of considering it a tropical plant, and growing it in full sun where summer temperatures are very high.

The mountain banana is an atypical plant within the Annonaceae family, as it grows well in a temperate and coastal climate, where summer temperatures remain temperate and thewinter reaches cold temperatures, even -20 / -25 °, surviving quietly.

L'exposure to the sun it changes according to the age of the tree: when young it would be better to shelter it from the direct action of the sun, especially in summer, by covering it with large sheets; as an adult, it can be exposed to the sun without risk.

Mountain banana irrigation

Since it is a coastal plant, developed along the course of rivers, it is natural that the mountain banana needs a moist and well hydrated soil.

In summer it must be constantly irrigated to avoid drought, which could become a real problem for the development of the fruit.

Mountain banana fertilization

The northern banana tree, like many other fruit trees, bears fruit best when fertilized with mature manure.

Even better, if you get the chance, it would be to feed it with organic debris from the undergrowth, to recompose its natural habitat.

Fertilization should preferably take place at the end of winter or early spring.

Mountain banana pruning

After a first training pruning, necessary to give shape to the crown of the tree, the mountain banana it does not require special pruning operations.

The suckers, dry or damaged branches and those that prevent proper ventilation inside the foliage must be removed annually.

Mountain banana harvest

We have already mentioned that fruit production occurs around the end of August. However, it is important to know that the PawPaw does not bear fruit before third year of age of the plant.

A better fruiting is stimulated by the chosen soil: moist soils favor the development of plants, both in terms of production time and in terms of size and quality of the fruits.

The spread of the mountain banana is not due only to its spontaneous growth, but to the interest already shown by man in ancient times for the beneficial properties of its fruits.

The PawPaws, as they were called by the natives, are best known for being a fruit rich in protein, a rare quality to be found in the fruit category.

In addition to being a good source of protein, they are also rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, as well as minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.


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They are formed for parthenocarpy, therefore fertilization is not necessary. The optimal conditions for cultivation correspond to those of tropical areas or subtropics: they need to average temperatures, that they oscillate between 26 ° and 27 ° C and prefer the plains close to the coast is protected from the wind. Around the Mediterranean they can be cultivated, but high quality fruit is not obtained moreover, plants suffer gods damage due to low temperatures (below 13 ° C) and for those high (above 45 ° C).

The constant rains and thehigh humidity of the air, there are two more environmental requirements for the cultivation of banana trees. The development of new shoots is conditioned by the quantity and intensity of light, especially in subtropical areas, so al decrease by lighting period, matches a process of longer development.

The banana grows in all types of soil, even if it prefers the fertile ones, with presence of water in summer is dry in winter tolerates a wide pH range, from 3.5 up to 9, controllable through the use of a ph meter .

In the Canary Islands, yes cultivate varieties of dwarf banana, the fruit of which has an excellent flavor and excellent storage qualities. 'Gran enana', 'Pequena enana' is 'Zelig', are the varieties that have best adapted to the conditions of the Canary Islands are also cultivated varieties obtained from local selections, how 'Brier' is 'Crane'.

THE banana trees are planted a quincunx to make better use of the land. In one sixth of the plant 3.5 x 35 m, they arrange themselves two plants per hole after 2 months yes keep the best, selecting sprouts arranged the most distant as possible.

Flowering of the banana tree

There growth is rapid if the climatic conditions are right, in about 10/12 mesthe there banana plant will bloom. The banana flower develops atinside of the stem until ready.

When it comes out, it sprays water, so that its birth to the natives is compared to the birth of a child. L'inflorescence, purple color is now ready for fertilization.

Pay attention to do not cut the leaves that surround it, because they serve a shelter it from the sun and wait for fertilization to take place.
At this point the petals will open, leaving the bunches of bananas. The part underneath the banana caps is the male flower (also said banana heart), which in some varieties is also edible. Now you can cut it to get the plant's energies to focus on the bananas.


Mountain banana: cultivation guide - garden

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Mountain Banana - Asimina Triloba

Mountain Banana - Asimina Triloba

Beautiful plant that belongs to a family, the Annonaceae, which they include almost exclusively tropical plants and includes well over a hundred genera, including the atypical Asimina, composed of two fruit-bearing species that thrive only in cold climates. One, Asimina Parviflora, is of little organoleptic interest, while the other, Asimina Triloba produces many and exquisite fruits.
Originally from the eastern part of the United States of America, where it grows spontaneously from northern Florida to the Canadian regions, known and much appreciated by the locals, with the name of paw-paw, it is a small, deciduous tree with a pyramidal bearing that can reach the height of a large peach tree, has large hanging lanceolate leaves of a beautiful deep green color that they take on in autumn a splendid bright yellow color which highlights the plant even from far away.
Plant very resistant to long and severe colds, withstands even -30 ° C, which are necessary for the formation of flower buds, on the other hand, unlike the plants of the other genera of the Annonaceae, it does not tolerate very strong and humid heat, which would prevent fruit setting. It has a tap root system, composed with few and large roots: this implies a difficult engraftment following a possible transplant.

GROUND

The Mountain Banana it is very rustic and undemanding also as regards the land where it is planted. Easy to adapt, although it prefers acid soils, as already mentioned, even in sub-alkaline or even alkaline soils, it still manages to grow luxuriantly. It is essential that they are deep soils, remember that it is taproot, and fresh, but very important, do not have water stagnation.

FLOWERS AND FRUITS

The Asimine genus and the Asimina Triloba species mostly have non-self-pollinating flowers: to bear fruit, the flower must receive pollen from a plant of the same species. The Prandini nurseries, in addition to the seed variety, have only self-pollinating varieties in cultivation, that is, a single plant can independently set the fruit.
At the end of winter, before the vegetation of the leaves, they appear numerous flowers, brown similar to some varieties of witch hazel, which bloom gradually over a month and are characterized by an unpleasant putrescent odor, imperceptible to man, but not to bees who are not only not attracted, but even avoid them .
The flowers are also pollinated by anemophilous way (by the wind) and, above all because of the particular smell they emanate, by annoying dipterans, including the unfriendly blue fly. Although not very elegant and anything but pleasant, for excellent pollination it is advisable to place under the plant during the flowering period, pieces of meat or fish which, decomposing, would give off the characteristic odor that would attract many flies which would also be attracted by the smell emitted by the flowers and would settle on them, pollinating them.
Asimine flowers have multiple ovaries so after the flower they will appear most of the time different fruit (also 7/8) arranged on a single plane attached to the same petiole. Over the days, however, many will fall and only 2/4 per flower or simply one will be able to reach maturity. In the first years of life, the asimina Triloba, while flourishing and producing small fruits, soltanto pochissimi riusciranno ad arrivare alla maturazione per un raccolto discreto si dovranno aspettare alcuni anni.
A fine estate, settembre/ottobre secondo la varietà e della zona di coltivazione, nascosti dalle belle foglie, si trovano grossi frutti di forma cilindrica con buccia molto sottile, color verde chiaro, che con il progredire della maturazione, si maculano al pari della vera banana, fino a cadere a maturazione avvenuta avendo avuto la fioritura scalare, anche la maturazione dei frutti sarà graduale e si protrarrà per circa un mese. Le massime qualità organolettiche si raggiungono al momento della caduta del frutto dalla pianta.
Del peso anche di diversi etti, il frutto è composto da una polpa cremosa da bianca a giallognola, secondo la maturazione, in cui sono disposti longitudinalmente in modo ordinato grossi semi scuri, consistenti, della grandezza di un fagiolo, che non disturbano perché si separano facilmente dalla polpa. Il gusto della Banana di Montagna è difficilmente descrivibile perché non rientra nei sapori cui siamo abituati normalmente. La polpa cremosa, aromatica e profumata richiama molti gusti che vanno dalla vera banana, all’ananas, alla crema, alla vaniglia e variano con il variare del grado di maturazione, fino a richiamare un fondo di gusto di caffè al massimo della maturazione.
Non sono frutti climaterici ( vedi Feijoa Sellowiana ) e si possono conservare al freddo pochi giorni, inoltre, una volta raccolti e immagazzinati, in notevole misura, producono un’elevata quantità di etilene e di anidride carbonica tali da renderne difficile lo stoccaggio. Congelandolo, il frutto dell’Asimina Triloba, non perde le sue caratteristiche organolettiche, però perde la sua consistenza diventando poco presentabile.

Varietà di Banana di Montagna coltivate dai vivai Prandini

  • Asimina triloba da seme: raramente autoimpollinante, possibilità che i frutti non siano aromatici, usato come portainnesto.
  • Sunflower: d’innesto, autoimpollinante, produzione costante, frutti medio/grossi, ottimi.
  • Prima 1216: d’innesto, autoimpollinante, produce dai primi anni, frutti grossi, squisiti.

UTILIZZO E CONTENUTI SALUTISTICI

Nel nostro Paese il frutto è ancora poco conosciuto e, considerando le difficoltà di commercializzazione, conosciuto sui banchi dei fruttivendoli solo occasionalmente, per cui l’utilizzo è indirizzato al consumo diretto da parte di coloro che posseggono una pianta. Ben diverso nei Paesi di origine dove oltre al consumo fresco, il frutto è largamente utilizzato nella guarnitura di torte al pari delle nostre crostate, nella preparazione di gelati e marmellate e in sostituzione della vera banana.
Frutto ad alto potere nutritivo e molto energetico, 100 grammi forniscono ottanta calorie, come la vera banana, e al pari di questa, è difficile da digerire: assumerne quantità rilevanti potrebbe creare problemi digestivi. Per l’elevata quantità contenuta di magnesio, in particolare, e potassio, è un ottimo integratore salinico importante la presenza, tra gli altri, anche di ferro calcio e fosforo, elevato anche il contenuto di vitamina A. Importante per quantità e qualità la presenza degli aminoacidi essenziali, che sono quelle sostanze indispensabili che il corpo umano non è in grado di produrre a sufficienza e devono quindi essere integrati necessariamente con l’alimentazione. Noti sportivi che hanno avuto modo di assumere giornalmente una giusta quantità di Banana di Montagna, hanno rilevato un notevole miglioramento delle prestazioni e un maggior benessere fisico.

POTATURA E CURE COLTURALI

Pianta semplicissima: non occorre farle nulla. Non richiede potature, solo quelle di contenimento in inverno se necessarie purché non piantata in terreni molto infelici, anche le innaffiature sono necessarie solo quelle, ovvie, fino all’affrancamento o in caso di estrema siccità e anche le concimazioni sono gradite al momento dell’impianto. Pianta biologica per eccellenza: a oggi non si conoscono attacchi fungini e parassitari a carico dell’Asimina Triloba.


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Gambirasioflorplant Urgnano

IL BANANO DI MONTAGNA (Asimia Triloba)
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Il banano di montagna è originario di una zona compresa negli attuali Stati Uniti orientali. Più precisamente nasce tra la Florida e la regione dei grandi laghi, al confine con il Canada.
Ha una lunga tradizione come pianta da frutto spontanea del continente americano. Era, infatti, già ampiamente usata dalle popolazioni native in epoca pre-colombiana.
I colonizzatori spagnoli e portoghesi ribattezzarono questa pianta Paw Paw, per via di una certa somiglianza dei frutti con la più nota papaya.
Come detto, da noi l’asimina è nota come banano di montagna. Viene coltivata soprattutto dagli appassionati di giardinaggio e piante esotiche, non essendo praticata la coltivazione intensiva.

Caratteristiche dell’asimina triloba
Una pianta caducifoglia si spoglia della sua chioma durante la stagione invernale, in cui entra nella fase di riposo vegetativo. Il banano di montagna fa parte di questa categoria di piante. Le sue caratteristiche sono le seguenti:

L’apparato radicale è formato da una lunga radice fittonante, con poche diramazioni laterali.
Le radici sono molto delicate, per cui trapiantare alberi di banano di montagna cresciuti a lungo in vaso è sconsigliato.
In natura ha la forma di arbusto, mentre in coltivazione e con adeguati interventi di potatura diventa un alberello.
Ha dimensioni contenute e la crescita è molta lenta. A piena maturazione e nelle condizioni ideali l’albero può arrivare a 10 m di altezza. In media, però, staziona sui 3-4 m.
Il tronco è grigio chiaro, con una tenue consistenza del legno, che risulta quindi morbido.
Le foglie sono molto grandi, anche nelle giovani piante arrivano a 30 cm di lunghezza. Sono verdi nella pagina superiore, più chiare in quella inferiore. Hanno forma ovale, margine intero, sono ricoperte da una sottile peluria e solcate da vistose nervature.
Gemme a legno e gemme a fiore
La pianta di banano di montagna differenzia nettamente le gemme a legno da quelle a fiore:


Legno: sono piccole, molto sottili e di forma allungata.
Fiore: si formano sui nuovi rami in estate e si distinguono per la loro forma tondeggiante. Tanto per intenderci assomigliano per forma e grandezza ad un cappero.
In primavera, nei rami di un anno che portano le gemme a fiore, inizia un processo di rigonfiamento della gemma stessa, che poi si apre. Man mano che si gonfia, la gemma forma un peduncolo peloso e penzolante. Solo nella fase finale comincia a prendere l’aspetto di un fiore.

Fiori
Fiore di banano di montagnaFiore di banano di montagna
La fioritura e l’impollinazione del banano di montagna hanno una dinamica piuttosto complessa. La biologia dell’asimina triloba è da considerare con attenzione, se si vogliono ottenere fruttificazioni abbondanti.
I fiori sono ermafroditi, con calice trilobato e sei petali.
Hanno un aspetto unico e affascinante, dovuto alla consistenza carnosa e al color rosso-porpora intenso.
L’albero fiorisce in maniera scalare, a partire dal mese di aprile e fino alla metà di maggio. La prima fioritura anticipa la formazione delle foglie.

Impollinazione
L’asimina triloba è una specie autosterile, sono poche le varietà autofertili che sono state selezionate. Questo vuol dire che c’è bisogno dell’impollinazione incrociata, con la presenza sul campo di almeno due varietà diverse e compatibili tra di loro.
Anche qualora si impiantasse una varietà autofertile ci sarebbe sempre bisogno di una varietà diversa a fianco. Questo perché la parte femminile e quella maschile del fiore si sviluppano in momenti diversi.
La dinamica dell’impollinazione incrociata l’abbiamo vista in alberi da frutto più noti, come nocciolo, kiwi, carrubo.
L’impollinazione del banano di montagna avviene ad opera di alcuni insetti pronubi, ma non delle api.
I fiori di questa specie sono primitivi e il polline che producono è poco volatile e non attrattivo per le api. Gli impollinatori, dunque, sono mosche, scarafaggi e formiche, tutti insetti meno abili delle api. Per questo motivo, il sesto di impianto non può essere troppo largo c’è la necessità fisica che le piante siano vicine tra di loro, per facilitare il lavoro degli insetti sopra citati. Un’alternativa è l’impollinazione manuale, da effettuare in modo delicato con un pennellino, operazione però difficile da eseguire.

I fiori del banano di montagna hanno l’ovario multiplo, quindi ogni fiore può dar vita a 3 o 4 frutti. L’albero non entra in produzione prima di 3 o 4 anni di vita. L’allegagione avviene a giugno, quindi l’accrescimento dei frutti si ha in piena estate. Per raccogliere banane ben maturi si deve attendere settembre (o ottobre, dipende dalla stagione). È facile capire quando i frutti sono maturi, poiché diventano molto profumati, morbidi e si staccano senza sforzi dalla pianta. Non attendete troppo per la raccolta però, non bisogna aspettare che la buccia cambi colore. Questo è il segnale che il frutto è super-maturo, con il rischio che inizi a marcire.

Le banane di montagne sono frutti grandi fino a 20 cm. Il loro peso varia dai 150 g fino ai 500, a seconda della varietà.
Si presentano con la buccia di colore verde chiaro, che, come detto, si scurisce a piena maturità. Inoltre è sottile, protegge una morbida polpa di colore giallo, dalla consistenza cremosa.
Il sapore è molto dolce, ricorda un po’ quello delle banane, o di altri frutti esotici come il mango.
Per apprezzarne il gusto unico, si deve cogliere e mangiare quando ha raggiunto il giusto grado di maturazione. Basta aprirlo e prendere la polpa, magari con un cucchiaino. Purtroppo, non si conservano troppo a lungo. Bisogna quindi mangiarli freschi o trasformarli il prima possibile in confettura, gelati o frullati.
All’interno contengono dei semi (in media 10-14) di consistenza dura e forma ovale.

Varietà di banano di montagna
Ecco un sintetico elenco della varietà di banano di montagna che si ha la possibilità di trovare in Italia. Ricercateli nei vivai specializzati in piante e frutti esotici:


Sunflower (la migliore)
Prima 1216
Georgia
Quelle sopra elencate sono tutte varietà autofertili.

Propagazione del banano di montagna
L’innesto è il metodo di propagazione del banano di montagna più diffuso. È facile far nascere una pianta da seme, ma conveniente solo per creare un portainnesto.
Il franco da seme entra in produzione dopo oltre 10 anni, non rispetta le caratteristiche genetiche della pianta madre e se produce frutti sono di scarsa qualità.

Come coltivare il banano di montagna
Il banano di montagna può essere coltivare tranquillamente anche in zone dove le temperature d’inverno scendono sotto i -20 C°. Quest’albero, infatti teme il caldo, non il freddo.
Le gelate tardive mettono a rischio i fiori e la successiva allegagione dei frutti, ma non la pianta.
Per crescere bene, l’asimina triloba ha bisogno del freddo durante i mesi invernali. Quindi è una cultivar perfetta per le regioni settentrionali, soprattutto in quelle aeree dove le precipitazioni estive sono abbondanti. L’esposizione in queste regioni è in mezz’ombra.
Al Sud la si può coltivare, ma deve essere protetta dal sole e quindi va piantata in posizioni ombreggiate.
Attenzione in ogni caso a tenere le piante riparate dai venti: le grandi foglie del banano di montagna si possono danneggiare facilmente.


Ground
Per la coltivazione del banano di montagna abbiamo bisogno di un terreno sciolto e profondo, con un pH acido.
Attenzione a che il terreno sia ben drenato e quindi non dia luogo a ristagni idrici. L’asfissia delle radici dovuta al ristagno è la prima causa di deperimento delle giovani piante di asimina.

Fertilization
Il banano di montagna richiede una buona concimazione di fondo già dal momento della messa a dimora. Questa può essere effettuata con del letame ben maturo.
Ogni anno è opportuno integrare con del concime specifico per piante acidofile. A questo scopo i lupini nella versione macinata, sono un ottimo concime biologico.
La concimazione si ammenda al terreno con una zappetta alla fine dell’inverno, prima della ripresa vegetativa.


Coltivazione in vaso
La coltivazione in vaso del banano di montagna non riesce bene, quindi è un’opzione che sconsigliamo. Il lungo fittone dell’apparato radicale ha bisogno di scendere in profondità, dunque si deve usare un vaso di grandi dimensioni.

Irrigazione e pacciamatura
Per coltivare bene un banano di montagna è indispensabile l’irrigazione.
La pianta non resiste a lunghi periodi di siccità, specie se associati a caldo intenso.
Questo vale sia se si coltiva al Nord, che al Sud. Se non vi sono precipitazioni naturali, bisogna irrigare almeno una volta alla settimana.

Come potare il banano di montagna
Il portamento naturale del banano di montagna é molto bello, con una forma piramidale. Per questo motivo viene spesso coltivato a fini ornamentali.
La potatura dell’albero serve soprattutto ad eliminare i polloni basali, che in buone condizioni di coltivazioni emergono spesso. Se non si eliminano i polloni la pianta avrà portamento arbustivo.
Altri piccoli interventi di potatura che si possono fare alla fine dell’inverno sono quelli finalizzati a rimuovere i rami che s’incrociano e parti danneggiate.


Riproduzione dall’albero di banane

Dopo la raccolta delle banane, l’albero muore. Il fusto dal lato opposto al casco di banane, andrà inciso con un machete, la parte restante andrà poi recisa dal rizoma, facendo attenzione a non rovinare i nuovi polloni. Di questi ne andrà lasciato solo uno che l'anno successivo darà frutto.
Gli altri potranno essere trapiantarli in nuove buche per fare altri alberi. Quest’operazione va fatta con cura, intervenendo con del fertilizzante sulla pianta madre e recidendo poi la parte apicale del pollone in modo da facilitare la sua radicazione.


COSA COLTIVARE IN MONTAGNA

Tra gli arbusti più adatti per i giardini in condizioni estreme, troviamo alcuni arbusti tipici del periodo natalizio, come l’Elleboro (detto Rosa di Natale) oppure l’Agrifoglio (Ilex) e il Biancospino con le loro bacche di un rosso vivo. Oppure piante simili come la Piracanta (Pyracantha detta anche Agazzino), l’Evonimo o la Aucuba japonica, che alle bacche rosse unisce le caratteristiche foglie chiazzate di macchie di color giallo pallido.

Possiamo scegliere anche arbusti più alti con fiori appariscenti e molto decorativi: tra questi la Buddleia, con i suoi fiorellini viola, che può offrire la sua bellezza dall’estate fino all’autunno e il Calicanto, che fa sbocciare le sue gemme in inverno e abbellisce il giardino in primavera.

Anche la Camelia e la Magnolia stellata, conosciute per i loro grandi fiori bianchi e delicati, reggono bene alle basse temperature.

Altri arbusti adatti per la montagna, ideali per comporre delle siepi, sono il Viburno, il Ligustro e il Lauroceraso.

Tra le piante ideali per le nostre aiuole in ambienti montani possiamo ricordare alcune specie note per la loro resistenza a climi difficili, come la Lavanda, il Mirtillo e il Ribes. Anche l’Erica e la Calluna, sono piante da fiore tipiche dei prati in alta quota. Altre piante adatte alle aiuole di montagna sono le Sassifraghe, con i loro piccoli fiori vivaci e le loro foglie caratteristiche, oppure fiori da bulbo come i Crochi.

Se cerchiamo dei rampicanti possiamo invece ricorrere alle Clematis (detta Clematide), alle Aquilegie e alle Campanule.

Infine non dimentichiamo anche due piante grasse, la Sempervivum e il Sedum, meglio note come Rose del Deserto, anch’esse apprezzate per la loro resistenza a condizioni climatiche estreme.


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