Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’

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  • 1 Cultivar Name
    • 1.1 Synonyms
  • 2 Pictures
  • 3 Description
    • 3.1 Origin
    • 3.2 Usage
  • 4 Flowering
  • 5 Cultivation
    • 5.1 Known Afflictions
  • 6 Research Notes
    • 6.1 Members Growing This Banana
  • 7 External

Cultivar Name

Ensete Ventricosum ‘Maurelii’


Red Abyssinian banana, Musa ‘Tandarra Red’


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Botanical Name: Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’ (en-SET-ay ven-tri-KO-sum) also known under the common names of False Banana, Red Abyssinian Banana, Red Leaved Banana, Wild Banana Ensete Ventricosum belongs to the family Musaceae,genus Ensete. There are approximately 7 species in this genus. The wild form of Ensete ventricosum is widespread in tropical Africa from Ethiopia, through Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania south to Mozambique and South Africa (Transvaal), and west to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ensete is cultivated for food only in Ethiopia, where it was first domesticated possibly about 8000 years ago. The center of Ensete cultivation is in the mountains of south-western Ethiopia. Ensete Ventricosum ‘Maurelii’ is a banana-like perennial has large paddle-shaped leaves, that range in color from deep claret brown to red-purple to pale green, produced from the center of the plant, having thick midribs with bright red undersides. White flowers are borne in inflorescences 3 to 4 feet long. Fruits are banana-like but dry and unpalatable. At maturity in approximately 5 years, they can reach heights of up to 30 feet, but are more likely to grow to approximately 20ft. Ventricosum are grown primarily for the food value of their corms in their country of origin (Ethiopia). The corm being a rich source of high-grade food starches reaching a mature weight of approximately 40 kg. In Europe and most of the western world this species is grown as an ornamental. Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’ is a sport of the normal green Ensete ventricosum not a distinct or separate species. To reproduce it must be either tissue cultured or the corm must be divided to produce the red offspring. It does not normally grow true-to-type from seed the offspring of the seed will most likely be of the common green variety. However, they can produce red offspring from seed but the chances are 1 in 10,000.

  • Genetic Group –

Chromosome number 2n = 18


Africa from Ethiopia, through Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania south to Mozambique and South Africa (Transvaal), and west to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  • Date realized in trade –

first cataloged: Musa ventricosum Welw. (1859)


Grown as a food and ornamental crop


  • Time To Bloom –

5 years

  • Time To Harvest –

5 years


  • Mature Height – 6′-10′, 20′
  • Survival Zone -9-11
  • Fruiting Zone – 9-11
  • Cold Hardiness -9
  • Wind – moderate
  • Sun – lots of sun
  • Taste Description – N/A, however the corm has been known to be cooked and eaten.
  • Personal Notes – does not like high humidity
  • Growth tips –

Easy to grow from seed. This banana will not naturally pup. You must cut the meristem stem at soil level to force pupping. Allow to dry out between waterings. Do not wet crown of plant which rots easily. Likes fairly strong sun but can tolerate up to 60% shade. Likes high temps. Not suitable in highly humid climates. Comes from a dry cycling highland plains area. If grown in pots does OK but not great due to its rather enormous root system. Has a tendency to go dormant in low light. Will die if attacked by aphids and not treated right away. Repot every 3 months or when roots show out bottoms of pots, typically 3 to 4 times a year. Rapid grower, feed 10-10-10, keep fertilizer away from corm if potted, better to use water soluble fertilizer to prevent burning of the corm.

Known Afflictions

  • Pests –

Aphids, leaf rollers, soil nematodes, spider mites.

  • Susceptible Diseases –

Commonly susceptible to crown rot and bunchy top disease

  • Resistant Diseases –

Research Notes

  • Links to useful discussion threads in the forum: Ensete ventricosum maurelli aka Red Abyssinian banana

  • Typical Price Range –

+- $22

Members Growing This Banana


  • Links (Links to other useful pages on the web that mention this banana. Example: International Banana Society)
  • Sources




Retrieved from “http://www.bananas.org/wiki/Ensete_ventricosum_%27Maurelii%27”

Ensete Ventricosum – the Abyssinian Banana

Ensete Ventricosum
‘Maurelii’ – leaf detail
New Ensete leaf emerging

By whatever means you acquired these plants, they are relatively easy to look after. Wind is your main enemy with these beauties. They are marginally more robust than the traditional bananas (Musa.). They are best suited to the more sheltered garden

A well prepared soil is essential to get the most from your plants. Plenty of home made compost and composted manure dug into the planting hole along with regular watering, will see your Ensete Ventricosum comfortably through the season. As with all plants, a good soaking every few days is more beneficial than a daily sprinkle.

A useful feature of this plant is the apparent lack of pests and diseases when grown outdoors.

As the season progresses, your plant will grow successively larger leaves. Each new leaf unfurling to reveal another eager young leaf within.

The emerging leaves are held pert and upright. As the plant continues to grow, the older leaves begin to droop, bending downwards. When this happens it is a good idea to remove them. The plants have a more impressive look when the leaves are held skywards in shuttlecock fashion. When removing the older leaves, make sure you do not cut them off too close to the stem. The stem of Ensete Ventricosum is not strictly a stem but a collection of leaf bases known as a pseudo stem. Each leaf contributes to the sturdiness of the plant. Do not remove leaves from the stem unless they have come away on their own. Even then use caution.

Inevitably the summer will come to a close. By early autumn you will need to decided the fate of your plants. Unfortunately these plants are not contenders for growing outside during the winter. I, and many others have attempted to bring them through the winter outdoors. Even with a combination of a mild winter, thick lagging and an early warm spring, these plants just will not co-operate. I have tried warming the soil using clear plastic sheeting but to no avail. Eventually the stumps will just be in the way and have to be removed. I often feel as I am hacking them down, that they are not truly dead, particularly the inner core. Our summers are just too short and cool though, to pull it off.

Frost damaged Ensete Ventricosum

So what are you going to do with them…

If you don’t have a greenhouse it is time to say farewell.

It is said that they can be dug up and overwintered in a garage, but I have no experience of that so I couldn’t possibly comment. If you have a frost-free greenhouse then you can relatively easily save your plants to fight another day.

Here is how to do it – Overwintering shows you how to prepare your Abyssinian banana for winter. This will involve removing most of the leaves. Digging the plants up and transferring them into a frost free greenhouse. How to keep your plants happy over winter and how to deal with any pests.

Then when you are ready

Planting out shows you the steps involved in replanting your overwintered plants. From soil preparation to the final planting of your plants.

Thai Black Banana Fruit!

Looks like I may get some Thai Black banana fruit this year:

It’s a little late in the year so I hope these mature quickly.

The Thai Black banana is considered an ornamental variety of banana, so these may or may not be palatable fruit. Chances are they’ll be lousy. If anyone knows if the Thai Black banana is edible, let me know. Otherwise I hope to be tasting these fruit in the fall.

Here’s a close up of the Thai Black banana fruit developing as the bloom descends:

Little Thai Black banana fruit developing rapidly.

See the hands of bananas? The little yellow blooms inside the unfolding inflorescence to the left are male blooms. The little bananas to the right behind the red inflorescence are the female blooms. You can still see the wilted petals at their tips. Banana trees make a series of female blooms followed later by the male flowers. Each “petal” of the inflorescence unfolds and drops off revealing another row of blooms as it descends.

These Thai Black banana fruit are likely to be seedy since this is supposedly a wilder form of banana. Banana seeds are hard little things that have been bred out of the cultivated varieties. It’s not fun to break a tooth while eating a tasty banana.

The Thai Black trees have proven themselves remarkably cold hardy. I planted one little (maybe 14″) tree there last spring… and there’s now a 14′ clump of bananas towering over the food forest and above my driveway.

Come on, fruit! Fruit! And let us have a nice, warm fall so these babies develop!

At the very least, even if they’re not edible, I suppose I could plant the seeds (if they have any) from these fruit and grow some more banana trees that way. The Thai Black banana is very tropical and attractive and has done excellently in my North Florida yard. The black trunks look really cool.

If it’s edible, I’ll be really happy.

UPDATE: Curtiss shared a link in the comments to bananas.org and I was able to find a good thread on Thai Black banana trees. Tons of info.

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