Musa acuminata is a species of banana originally from South China, better known as the Cavendish banana, it is a species implicated in the origin of the vast majority of edible bananas. Many of the bananas sold in grocery stores are from cultivars of this species or from hybrids in which this species is a parent.
Primarily grown not for their fruit but for their ornamental foliage that lends an exotic and tropical aura to the home or the garden. Musa acuminata is a 'dwarf variety' that typically grows to 120 to 180cm (4 to 6ft) tall. Extremely suitable for containers or gardens, it makes a much more manageable plant than other species.
The fruits, at 12cm (5in) long, are smaller than the common desert banana. They are sweeter are at their best when eaten very ripe.
Banana plants are the largest plants on earth without a woody stem. They are actually giant herbs of the same family as lilies, orchids and palms. It reaches its full height of in about one year. The trunk of a banana plant (the pseudostem) is made of sheaths of overlapping leaves, tightly wrapped around each other.
Broad, long, graceful leaves and rapid growth make the banana a favourite plant for providing a tropical look to pool or patio areas. The development of bananas following a frost-free winter is a source of both pride and amazement to those unfamiliar with banana culture.
Sowing: Sow indoors at any time of year.
Sow seeds as soon as you are able. If you are not going to sow them, store them in their packaging in a cool, dark, dry place. (Do not refrigerate)
Soak seed for 3 to 4 days in warm water, which has been previously boiled. Change the water each day. This process is important, as gets rid of germination inhibitors.
Fill either large cells or trays with perlite, vermiculite or sterilized compost. Stand the trays in water until the medium is completely moist
Sow the seeds 2.5cm (1in) deep. Spray the seeds with a little copper based fungicide
Bottom heat is helpful, place in a propagator if you have one or in a warm location out of direct sunlight. Do not exclude light as this helps germination. Keep at a constant temperature of 20 to 25°C (68 to 77°F). Check the seeds daily for germination. If mold or fungus appears, remove the seeds and wash them in warm water. Spray them with fungicide and re-sow in a fresh medium in a sterilised pot. Keep the surface of the compost moist but not waterlogged. Patience is needed as germination is erratic and take from one to twelve months. Do not give up too soon!
When large enough to handle, transplant seedlings into 7cm (3in) pots, taking care not to damage the root system. Grow on in well-lit conditions, and pot on, into rich, well drained soil, as required. Water the plant thoroughly and every 1 to 3 days thereafter depending on the season. Do not soak - remember moist soil, not wet, not dry.
Musa do not like wind, or rather you will not like the way they look as the leaves spit in windy locations. The planting site should be chosen for protection from wind and cold weather, if possible, the south or southeast side of the house.
Cold hardy bananas appreciate sun, water and a rich soil to grow well. It does not matter if the plants are planted in a position that is in shade during winter as the plants will be covered up.
The plants will grow in a wide variety of soils, but to thrive, they should be planted in a rich, well-drained soil that is not compacted to avoid waterlogging over the winter. Before planting, test your soil’s ability to drain properly. Dig a post-hole about 60cm (2ft) deep. Fill it with water. If it empties within two hours, the drainage should be ideal.
Once you have chosen a location for your banana plant, you need to prepare the soil well. Make sure the hole is is at least 60cm (2ft) deep, dig plenty of home made compost and composted manure into an area considerably bigger than your new plant's pot. Pop the plant it the soil and water well.
Their rapid growth rate makes bananas plants heavy feeders. During warm weather, apply a balanced fertiliser once a month.
Spread the fertiliser evenly around the plant in a circle extending 120cm (4ft) from the trunk. Feed container banana plants on the same monthly schedule using about half the rate for outside plants.
Container grown plants can be moved indoors or to a sheltered spot in the garden. Outdoor plants need protection, either wrap the trunk or cover with blanket if the banana plants are small and low temperatures are predicted. You can also dig up the roots, and store in a dark dry place inside until spring. The foliage can be cut back to 15 to 20cm (6 to 8in). Leaves are damaged at 0°C (32°F) but the plant will grow back from the root (corm).
Musa acuminata is native to the biogeographical region of Malaysia and most of mainland Indochina.
Early farmers introduced M. acuminata into the native range of M. balbisiana resulting in hybridisation and the development of modern edible clones. Westward spread included Africa which already had evidence of Musa acuminata × Musa balbisiana hybrid cultivation from as early as 1000 to 400 BC. They were probably introduced first to Madagascar from Indonesia. From West Africa, they were introduced to the Canary islands by the Portuguese in the 16th century, and from there were introduced to Hispaniola (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic) in 1516.
Musa acuminata is better known for being implicated in the origin of the vast majority of edible bananas. Four subspecies (banksii, zebrina, malaccensis and burmannica) have been shown to be involved in the domestication of the banana
The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant. It is botanically classed a herb, not a tree due to the lack stringy tissue (wood) in the stem. The banana itself is considered a fruit because it contains small seeds.
All the above-ground parts of a banana plant grow from a structure usually called a 'corm'. Plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy, and are often mistaken for trees, but what appears to be a trunk is actually a 'false stem' or pseudostem.
Musa is in the family Musaceae. Some 70 species of Musa were recognised by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families as of January 2013. Several produce edible fruit, while others are cultivated as ornamentals.
The genus Musa was created by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778). Linnaeus had yet to establish two-word names for organisms so was content with the one-word name Musa for the banana. However, it was the custom, soon to be a rule (of Linnaeus, who loved rules), that names (of genera at least) must derive from Latin or Greek, or be eponyms for naturalists. Linnaeus was well aware that musa came from the Arabic moaz or mauz. for banana and was therefore 'barbaric' (i.e. non-classical). But he liked the name and it did have some 'official' precedence in the works of Cesalpino and others. Cleverly he circumvented this troublesome etymology by 'naming' the banana after Antonius Musa, a botanist and physician to the great Emperor Augustus, thus coining an eponym that was also decidedly Latin.
The species name acuminata means 'tapering into a long narrow point' is a reference to the acuminate leaf of this species. The word derives from the classical Latin acuminare, meaning to sharpen.
The word acus, meaning a needle-like structure. Acute, meaning extremely sharp or severe or intense, is used to describe many things such as acute pain, or an acute triangle.
Pronounced a·cu·mi·na·tum. It is commonly called the Chinese Banana and Ladyfinger Banana
The name banana is thought to be of West African origin, from the Wolof word banan meaning 'finger', and passed into English via Spanish or Portuguese. The bananas that were growing in Africa as well as Southeast Asia were not the eight-to-twelve-inch giants that have become familiar in the supermarkets today. They were small, about as long as a man's finger.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 12 Seeds Family Musaceae Genus Musa Species acuminata Synonym Musa cavendishii Common Name Dwarf Banana, Chinese Banana Other Common Names Ladyfinger Banana, Dessert or Sweet Banana Hardiness Hardy Perennial Foliage Green glossy leaves 1.2 to 1.5m (4-5ft) Height 1.8 to 2.7m (6-9ft) Position Full sun, sheltered Soil Rich and moist but well drained