Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ensete ventricosum 'maurelii' ....... Red Abyssinian Banana

Ensete Ventricosum 'maurellii' or Red Abyssinian Banana is the über plant of the subtropical world.

 This banana-like perennial has large paddle-shaped leaves, which range in color from deep claret brown to a rich burgundy red  to pale green, produced from the center of the plant, with thick midribs bright red beneath. 

It can reach 20 feet or more in its native tropical and subtropical forests of Africa.
White flowers are borne in inflorescences 3 to 4 feet long. Fruits are banana-like but dry and unpalatable.  The very large hard seeds  are inedible. 

It does not produce suckers so must be grown from seed or by tissue culture. 
It is very fast growing, but difficult to flower in northern climates. 

It will grow well in full sun to partial shade. Makes an outstanding focal point in a large container or planted in the ground.

HTUK Dave, Hardy Tropicals UK, shows how he went about preparing and digging out his 10ft  Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii' -  Red Abyssinian Banana ready for dry storing overwinter.


 How fortunate we are that here on the coast of Granada, Andalucia  we do not have to go to such lengths to keep this magnificent plant.  
It can easily survive our frost free winters happily growing in our jungle corner of the garden in the small banana plantation, sheltered from the sea breezes or the colder winds blowing down from the high snow covered sierra.