Musa balbisiana

Musa balbisiana
Source: Xufanc

Musa balbisiana or Plantain is a wild banana that is the source of cultivars for plantain or cooking banana. Dessert or sweet bananas are derived from Musa acuminata.

It produces inedible fruit due to the huge amount of hard seeds. Fruit is gray-blueish.

Resists to very mild and short frost but it is advised to grow it in pot and overwinter it inside in cold regions.

Growth is extremely fast bordering on invasive when properly fertilized and watered.


Musa balbisiana is an herb of about 3 m hight with pseudostem formed by the petioles. It produces suckers and grows in clumps. The pseudostem is yellow-green, often with large black spots. It is about 6 m high.

The petiole is 60-75 cm long. The leaf is green, light or not frosted, oval oblong, up to 3 m long and 90 cm wide.

The inflorescence is pendulous, up to 2.5 m long. The peduncle and rachis are bare. The spathe is purple-red on top, brown-purple to yellow-green underneath. It is ovoid to elongated and rounded at the tip. After flowering, it curls back. There are in up to 20 flowers in 2 rows. The flowers are small and white.

The fruit bunch is pendulous, with about 8 hands, each with 15-16 fruits in two rows. The fruit is gray-green and turns yellow when ripe. It is up to 13 cm long and 4 cm wide. The fruits are curved and are on a stalk of 2.5 cm. It contains numerous seeds. These are brown, oblate spheroid, 5-10 mm in diameter.


Ornamental, food, fodder


Common names:

Balbis banana, Banana, Diploid wild banana, Mealy banana, Plantain, Seedy banana, Starchy banana, Wild banana type B, Wild starchy banana


Musa × paradisiaca subsp. seminifera, Musa dechangensis, Musa lushanensis, Musa luteola, Musa seminifera


Musa: from the Greek mousa (banana)
Balbisiana: –


Southeast Asia


Grows in ravines in the tropical forest at about 1,100 m


USDA zone 9-11, 0 °C

Musa balbisiana fruit

Musa balbisiana fruit
Source: Forest & Kim Starr



Rich and moist




Keep moist but not wet


Fertilize weekly with universal liquid fertilizer, this will result in very fast growth


Seed, suckers

Sowing instructions:

  • soak for 24 h in lukewarm water
  • sow in light mix
  • 35 °C during the day, 25 °C during the night
  • germination time: 7 days to 6 months