Ravenala madagascariensis or Traveller’s Tree is native of Madagascar, a member of the Strelitziaceae.
It has large leaves on large stalks which grow beautifully in the form of a fan. The plant looks very much like Strelitzia reginae or bird of paradise but without the spectacular flower.
It’s called traveller’s tree because water is collected at the base of the leaves which traveller’s could supposedly use but this water is actually polluted with dead insects and other not so nice and smelly stuff.
It has characteristics of both the bananas and palm trees: large leaves not unlike those of banana plants and a stem like palm trees but it’s herbaceous, not a palm or a tree.
Ravenala is not hardy but can be grown as a patio plant: outside during Summer and inside during Winter.
The island of Madagascar where it is the only member of the Strelitziaceae.
USDA zone 9, 0 °C
Should be kept at a minimum of 15 °C during winter.
9 m in culture
20 m in his natural habitat
Will not flower the first couple or years. The flowers are quite discreet and lodged at the base of the stems.
Semi-shade for young plants, sun for older plants.
Sowing or suckers
- carefully remove the blue residue of the fruit
- soak for 2 days in tepid water at 25-30 °C
- sow the seeds in 1 pot with soil, cover the pot to minimise evaporation
- keep at 25-30 °C
1 month to 1 year, very erratic
- transplant the seedlings one after another, as they germinate and when they are big enough to be handled
- leave the other seeds, they might germinate over the next couple of months
- semi-shade for young plants
- full sun for mature plants
- abundant water and food during growing season will result in fast growing