'Williams' at a glance


Ploidy level


Genome group






ITC code

ITC0365, ITC0400

'Williams' is a cultivar of the Giant Cavendish type in the Cavendish subgroup. It is one of the most widely grown cultivars in commercial plantations.

History, distribution and economic importance

'Williams' is believed to have first appeared as a tall mutant in a 'Chinese Cavendish' ('Dwarf Cavendish) plantation in Australia in 19101 . It soon started replacing 'Chinese Cavendish' and, by the 1950s, became the most widely grown cultivar in the country. 

It was introduced in Hawaii in 1953, where it soon replaced 'Chinese Cavendis'h in commercial plantations and also became the third most popular backyard banana (after 'Chinese Cavendish' and 'Hawaiian Apple').

Morphological characteristics

The pseudostem of Williams has dark brown, black or red streaks.

The rachis is only partly instead of fully clothed, with a long naked section of rachis and a crowded cluster of leaf-like bracts right above the male bud and very small neuter flowers just below the fruit.

The colour of the bract internal face is yellowish. Male flowers are whitish with yellow tips.

Fruits are 15-23 cm long, slightly curved, and about 5 times as long as broad. Their apex is more bottlenecked than for other Cavendish clones, especially before full maturity. Like other Cavendish, they have a tuft of dead floral relicts at the tip.

Agronomic traits, yield and fruit characteristics

Williams is a medium to tall plant (2.4-3.7 m)1 . Time from planting to harvest is around 12 months. Williams has a very large, cylindrical bunch, with up to 300 evenly sized and shaped fruits that point evenly upwards.

Days from planting to flowering: 351.12

Days from flowering to harvest: 188.22

Days from planting to harvest: 539.32

Height at shooting (cm): 161.22

Height at harvest (cm):

Girth at shooting (cm): 57.92

Functional leaves at shooting: 12.42

Total leaves at shooting: 12.72

Mean bunch weight (kg): 25.8, 28.2, 28.52

Number of hands:

Total number of fruits:

Number of fruits on hand:

Finger length (cm): 18.3, 19.72

Finger girth (cm): 12.1, 12.42

Finger weight (g):

Yield (t/ha):

Reaction to pests and diseases

'Williams' is highly susceptible to black leaf streak and to Mycosphaerella leaf speckle3 . Epidemics of Cordana leaf spot have occurred on' Williams' in New South Wales, Australia4 .

It is resistant to Fusarium wilt race 1, but susceptible to race 45 .

It was found to be susceptible to Radopholus similis6 .

'Williams' is susceptible to Banana bunchy top virus7 .

Fruits are less susceptible to cigar end rot1 .

Reaction to abiotic stress

'Williams' has good tolerance to wind1 . In St Lucia, 'Robusta' suffered 2.5 times more wind damage than 'Williams'8 .

While it is not especially cold tolerant1 , 'Williams' can grow in cooler environments2 . Low temperatures can induce choking in 'Williams'.

Williams seems less sensitive to water stress than 'Grande Naine', but more sensitive than 'Robusta'2 .

Recommendations for cultivation

The heavy bunch often requires propping to prevent toppling1 .


Dessert type


1 Kepler, A.K. and Rust, F.G. 2011. The world of bananas in Hawai'i: then and now. Traditional pacific and global varieties, cultures, ornamentals, health and recipes. Pali-O-Waipi'o press, Hawaii. 586p.
2 Njuguna, J., Nguthi, F., Wepukhulu, S., Wambugu, F., Gitau, D., Karuoya, M. and Karamura, D.A. 2008.Introduction and evaluation of improved banana cultivars for agronomic and yield characteristics in Kenya. African Crop Science Journal 16(1):35-40.
3 Jones, D.R. (ed.). 2000. Diseases of banana, Abacá and Enset. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, Oxon (GBR). 544p.
4 Allen, R.N. and Dettman, E.B. 1990. Production of conidia and appressoria by Cordana johnstonii on banana. Mycological Research 94:815-818.
5 Pegg, K.G. 1999. Unpublished. Cited by Ploetz, R.C. and Pegg, K.G. 2000. Fusarium wilt. p. 143-159. In: Jones, D.R. (ed.). 2000. Diseases of banana, Abacá and Enset. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, Oxon (GBR). 544p.
6 Araya, M. and Moens, T. 2005. Parasitic nematodes on Musa AAA (Cavendish subgroup cvs 'Grande naine', 'Valery' and 'Williams'. p.201-223. In: Turner, D.W. and Rosales, F.E. (eds.). Proceedings of International Symposium, San José (CRI), 2003/11/03-05. Banana root system: Towards a better understanding for its productive management. INIBAP, Montpellier (FRA).
7 Thomas, J.E. and Iskra-Caruana, M.L. 2000. Bunchy top. p241-253. In: Jones, D.R. (ed.). 2000. Diseases of banana, Abacá and Enset. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, Oxon (GBR). 544p.
8 Holder, G.D. and Gumbs, F.A. 1983. Agronomic assessment of the relative suitability of the banana cultivars 'Robusta' and 'Giant Cavendish' (Williams hybrid) to irrigation. Tropical Agriculture (Trinidad) 60:17-24.

See also on this website

Local names for 'Williams' in the cultivar checklist
Musapedia pages on cultivars: