Musa acuminata

Musa acuminata
Source: Forest & Kim Starr

Musa acuminata or Cavendish Banana is a wild banana from Asia that is the source of cultivars for dessert bananas whereas Musa balbisiana is the source of cultivars for plantain or cooking bananas.

It bears edible fruit but with a lot of seeds. Contrary to the dessert bananas who bear only little black dots which are remnants of unripe seeds and can only be propagated by division.

Not frost resistant but its rapid growth and lush foliage make it a very rewarding species to grow as a potted plant which can be kept outside during summer.

Description:

Musa acuminata is an herb with underground corm that can grow up to 6 m. It forms suckers.

The trunk is a false stem formed by the petiole. It can measure up to 4-5 m and is green with brown or black spots. The leaf blade and petiole are pruinose.

The leaves are green and pruinose on top, yellow-green and sometimes pruinose underneath. They are elongated, up to 2.3 m long and 70 cm wide.

The inflorescence is pending. The bracts are red to dark purple, sometimes yellow at the top. There are 15-20 flowers per bract, in two rows. The flowers are white, cream or yellow.

The fruits are curved, pentagonal when they are young and later cylindrical. They are yellow at maturity with white short hairs, 8-12 cm long and 1.5-3 cm in diameter. The fruits of the plants growing in the wild contain numerous seeds but ub the cultivated clones seeds have not been developed. The seeds are brown, 5-6 mm in diameter and angular.

Flowering and fruiting take place throughout the year.

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Banana, Blood banana, Cavendish banana, Chinese banana, Dwarf banana, Edible banana, Musa, Super Dwarf Cavendish banana, Sweet´s banana, Variegated banana, Wild banana, Wild banana Type A

Synonyms:

Musa cavendishii, Musa chinensis, Musa corniculata, Musa nana, Musa rumphiana, Musa simiarum, Musa sinensis, Musa zebrina

Etymology:

Musa from the Sanskrit word muca, via Latin and Arabic.
Acuminata: from the Latin acuminatum (pointed)

Origin:

Southeast Asia

Usage:

Decorative, food, feed, medical, packaging, spiritual



Hardiness:

USDA Zone 9-11, 0 °C

Musa acuminata inflorescence

Musa acuminata inflorescence
Source: Derek Keats

Care:

Soil:

Rich and moist

Exposure:

Sun, light

Water:

Keep the soil moist

Fertilizer:

Fertilize weekly with universal liquid fertilizer as it is a very fast grower

Propagation:

Seed, suckers

Sowing instructions:

  • soak for 24 hours in lukewarm water
  • sow in light mix
  • 25 °C
  • germination time: 7 days to 6 months

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