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Musa ingens

Giant Highland Banana

There are few other plants so fervently sought after as this enigmatic giant banana from the rugged and mysterious mountains of New Guinea. With a trunk to at least 15 m tall, about a meter in diamater at the base and a total plant height of 20 m or more, it is the undisputed record holder for the largest and tallest of the bananas and the largest non-woody plant in the world. It surely is one of the wonders of nature how an herbaceous plant growing from an underground rhizome and producing a pseudostem made up of densely packed leafbeases can reach a size larger than many woody trees. The pseudostem of Musa ingens is slightly swollen towards the base and covered in a whitish waxy layer, somewhat reminiscent of Ensete glaucum, just a lot larger. It holds a crown of about 12 fairly stiff, ascending leaves to 6 m long. The large inflorescence can hold over 300 oblong fruits to 18cm long that are filled with blackish brown seeds and yellowish pulp that is edible, sweet and delicious when cooked and reminds of fine butternut squash mixed with a sweet banana with a dash of tangy lime and citrus added. Musa ingens is native to montane rainforests throughout New Guinea between about 1300 and 2000 m elevation and usually found in wet sites in steep ravines or on the edges of highland swamps. Few seeds have ever made it into cultivation in the past and most have perished because they were handled incorrectly or picked immature. Our collectors are understandably rather proud of their amazing achievement. In cultivation, Musa ingens requires conditions that would suit tree ferns rather than regular bananas. Due to its highland habitat, like many Ensete it will not grow in tropical lowland climates but succeed only at some altitude where nights are cooler, or in oceanic, warm temperate climates such as Portugal, northern New Zealand, coastal California, coastal southern Brazil or on Atlantic islands such as Madeira or the Canary Islands.

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If you wish to read more on palm cultivation, we highly recommend Ornamental Palm Horticulture by Timothy K. Broschat and Alan W. Meerow, available in our bookshop.

Ratings and comments reflect individual experiences and the views of our visitors. They do not necessarily describe the most appropriate methods, nor are they necessarily valid for all seeds or plants of this species. Germination and plant cultivation success depends on many different factors; nevertheless, these experiences will hopefully aid you in your effort to get the best germination results from our seeds and the best growth results from your plants.


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We recommend:
The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft, Scott Zona

2nd edition
Completely revised and updated

Hardcover - 528 pages
11 x 8.5 inches

Our rating:
Suitable for: all

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is the definitive account of all palms that can be grown for ornamental and economic use. Palms are often underutilized as a result of their unfamiliarity—even to tropical gardeners. To help introduce these valuable plants to a new audience, the authors have exhaustively documented every genus in the palm family.
825 species are described in detail, including cold hardiness, water needs, height, and any special requirements. Generously illustrated with more than 900 photos, including photos of several palm species that have never before appeared in a general encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is as valuable as an identification guide as it is a practical handbook. Interesting snippets of history, ethnobotany, and biology inform the text and make this a lively catalog of these remarkable plants.

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