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Ensete ventricosum

Pronunciation: En-set-ee ven-tre-ko-sum
Family: Musaceae (banana family
Common Name: Abyssinian banana, ethiopian banana, ensete
Plant Type:
  • perennial
Height to: 20'
Width to: 5'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
Sun Exposure:
  • full shade
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Description: The white cup shaped flowers are partially hidden within huge hanging clusters of reddish bracts 3-4 ft (1-1. 2 m) long. Fruits look like little dry bananas but are not good to eat. The cultivar 'maurelii' has reddish leaves and red leaf stalks. 'montbeliardii' is tall and slender with narrow leaves and black midribs
Propagation: Unlike the true bananas, abyssinian banana does not produce suckers, and it dies after flowering, a condition called monocarpic. Seeds can be sown, but vegetative propagation is a detailed and labor intensive process. First the mother plant (before it flowers) is cut almost to the ground. Then the apical meristem (the central, growing part of the trunk) is cut or otherwise damaged, causing it to regrow with several adventitious branches, each of which may be removed and planted out.
Native to: Mountain slopes in tropical east africa from ethiopia to angola. It is grown in plantations as a food crop in parts of ethiopia where the leaf stalks and pseudostems provide an important source of starch for some 15 million people. Different cultivars are grown in the different regions and climates of ethiopia. Abyssinian banana is a popular ornamental in tropical and subtropical regions in the new world.
Notes for Identification: Source: floridatacare: abyssinian banana uses a lot of water in growth. Water frequently and keep the soil moist, but not water logged. Abyssinian banana is a fast growing plant, and like the true bananas, can get up to its full height in a single growing season. In frost-free climates, abyssinian banana is grown as a specimen plant. Its tropical appearence and tall stature command attention in stately court yards. They should be protected from strong winds. In cooler climates the plant is grown in the greenhouse or in a large container in the conservatory. You can have the dramatic tropical effect of this stately beauty in your temperate garden if you set it out in summer, then dig it up and bring indoors in winter. Dig up the plant before the first frost, cut the longer roots back, remove all but the newest 3-4 leaves and pot up for winter. You may need to cut the leaves back to half their length if space is a problem. Water sparingly during the inactive winter period.
Located in: Perennials
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