Typhonodorum lindleyanum

Typhonodorum lindleyanum

Typhonodorum lindleyanum or Water Banana has a truly striking appearance: the looks of a banana plant with large leaves like a taro.

It is a member of the arum family and is the only member of the genus Typhonodorum.

In the tropics, it can grow in the garden throughout the year. In temperate regions you can treat it as an orangery plant: indoors in winter and outdoors in summer. It can also be grown as a houseplant or in a heated greenhouse.

In the tropics, this is an invasive species.

Description:

Typhonodorum lindleyanum is an herb with numerous leaves that grows up to 2-4 m tall, with a fleshy creeping rhizome.

The pseudostem is formed by brown, dead leaf sheaths. The projecting portion of the petiole is 30-100 cm long, green and succulent. The leaf is subtriangular to arrow-shaped, light green, 70-140 cm long and 55-85 cm wide. The leaf discs of young plants are narrower. The midrib is quite wide: 1-1.5 cm at the base.

The petiole is erect, 40-50 cm long and 3 cm in diameter. After flowering, it hangs down. The spathe is 45-80 cm long, narrowed between the male and female flowers, rolled up to form a tube towards the base. The spadix is yellow, 35-55 cm long and 3 cm in diameter. Blooms throughout the year.

The infrutescence is 17 cm long and 12 cm in diameter, the spathe becomes green, then putrid at maturity of the fruit. The fruit is a spherical to ovoid berry, 4 cm in diameter, bright yellow, with one and sometimes two seeds. The seeds are flattened, 3×3 cm and 1.5 cm thick, greenish brown.

Use:

  • ornamental
  • fruits and rhizome are poisonous but eaten locally after prolonged boiling
Typhonodorum lindleyanum inflorescence

Typhonodorum lindleyanum inflorescence

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Water Banana, mangaoka, mangibo, viha, via, mgombakofi, mtongonya

Synonyms:

Arodendron engleri, Typhonodorum madagascariensis

Etymology:

Typhonodorum: from the Greek typhos (typhoon, hurricane) and doron (gift)
Lindleyanum: in honor of John Lindley, renowned English botanist (1817-1898)

Origin:

Madagascar, Mauritius, Zanzibar, Pemba, Comoros

Habitat:

Grows in shallow water in marshy areas, along rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, 0-900 m



Hardiness:

USDA zones 10-11

Typhonodorum lindleyanum in habitat

Typhonodorum lindleyanum in habitat

Care:

Soil:

Boggy

Exposure:

Sun

Water:

Must remain flooded at all times

Feed:

Fertilize regularly during the growing period. This is a strong grower, fertilize weekly with universal liquid fertilizer.

Temperature:

Ideal 25-30 °C for good growth, minimum 10 °C

Pot:

Does not need regular plant pot with holes in the bottom because it must be kept under water. Use any waterproof container, a bucket or exterior pot or plant directly into a pond.

Propagation:

Seed, suckers

Sowing instructions:

  • the seed must not be allowed to dry out, it should be sown immediately upon arrival
  • sow in a wet substrate (coconut fiber, vermiculite…)
  • 20-30 °C
  • germination time: 1-2 weeks (often seeds already germinate on arrival)
  • repot the seedlings when large enough to handle, the seedlings may be put under water immediately

Image sources

  • Typhonodorum lindleyanum: Own work
  • Typhonodorum lindleyanum inflorescence: Own work
  • Typhonodorum lindleyanum in habitat: Marek Gehrmann

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