Ensete ventricosum

Ensete ventricosum

Ensete ventricosum or Abyssinian banana is a fast-growing, not hardy banana.

This banana is native to Africa but now widespread throughout the world for its decorative value.

It is from the Musaceae family and thus a nephew of Musa of which it differs by not producing suckers. It is a monocarpic: the plant dies after flowering and fruit production.

Not very frost resistant (USDA zone 9), but can be protected from the frost by overwintering it indoors or him sowing each spring again.

Description:

Ensete ventricosum is an herb that grows up to 6m in its habitat, in culture rather to 1.5-2 m.

The pseudostem is very thick, hence the name ventricosum.

The leaves have a bright green color and up to 5 m long and 1 m wide. They have a salmon pink midrib.

The drooping inflorescence is up to 3m long, with large pink bracts. After flowering, the plant dies.

The bananas are dry and edible but not tasty. They contain hard, round, black seeds.

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Abyssinian Banana, Ethiopian Banana, False Banana

Synonyms:

Ensete edule, Musa arnoldiana, Musa davyae, Musa ensete, Musa ventricosa

Etymology:

Ensete: from a Gurage language, Ge’ez, inset (false banana)
Ventricosum: from the Latin ventricosus (ventricose, corpulent)

Origin:

Tropical East Africa

Habitat:

Swamp margins, river banks and open, moist mountain forests

Hardiness:

USDA zone 9-11
Leaves and pseudostem die at -1°C, the corm at -5 °C

Ensete ventricosum inflorescence

Ensete ventricosum inflorescence



Care:

Soil:

Rich and well drained

Exposure:

Sun, light, semi-shade

Water:

Doesn’t like too much humidity, let the soil dry out between waterings. Do not water the crown, it will not like it either.

Feed:

Fertilise weekly during growing season with liquid universal fertilizer, monthly during winter

Propagation:

Seed

Sowing instructions:

  • soak the seeds for 2-3 days
  • sow in light moist soil
  • keep at 30 °C
  • germination time: 2 weeks to 1 month
  • repotting: when the seedlings are big enough to handle

Remark:

Though this banana does not produce suckers under normal circumstances, a trauma can provoke apparition of suckers from the pseudo-stem, not from rhizomes as with musa.

This trauma can be provoked by cutting the plant down to the ground.

Image sources

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