Abyssinian banana is in the banana family and it looks a lot like a banana (Musa), but it is not a banana and it does not produce any edible fruit. The plant is an herbaceous perennial with huge leaves shaped like giant boat paddles. The leaves can be 20 ft long and 3-5 ft wide.

John Derrick
Published by: John C. Derrick
Editor / Founder
False Banana, Red Abyssinian Banana, Ensete (Ensete Ventricosum) Image

Huge might be an understatement. The leaves are bright olive-green and the midribs on the undersides are maroon. The leaves emerge from the center of the plant on a short trunk-like pseudo-stem, so that the plant's overall height is usually little more than the length of a single leaf. Fruits look like little dry bananas but are not good to eat. The cultivar 'Maurelii' has reddish leaves and red leaf stalks while the cultivar 'Montbeliardii' is tall and slender with narrow leaves and black midribs.


Abyssinian banana can be grown in partial shade to full sun. It does best in full sun. Abyssinian banana uses a lot of water in growth so be sure to water frequently and keep the soil moist, but not water logged.

Additional Classification Data

Family: Musaceae
Genus: Ensete
Species: Ventricosum
Cultivar: None Identified


Hardiness Zones

USDA Zone 8a: to 10 °F

USDA Zone 8b: to 15 °F

USDA Zone 9a: to 20 °F

USDA Zone 9b: to 25 °F

Plant Height

Height 10-12 ft.

Height 12-15 ft.

Height 15-20 ft.

Light Exposure

Light - Full Sun

Growth Rate

Rate - Very Fast

Rate - Fast

Published/Updated on: 01-20-2021