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Musa velutina

Previously known as:

  • Musa dasycarpa
  • Musa velutina var. variegata
Phonetic Spelling
MEW-suh vel-oo-TEE-nuh
Description

The pink banana is a tropical perennial in the Musaceae or banana family that is generally grown as an ornamental and has decorative fruits in subtropical climates. It typically grows to 4 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. It is hardy to zone 7b to 11. The leaves are large, paddle-shaped, dark green, and measure 3 feet long. In late summer the creamy flowers with pink bracts emerge and are quickly followed by clusters of small pink velvety fruits. The fruit is sweet and edible, but it is full of hard black seeds. They ripen and then split open. The bananas are so seedy that is not worth the trouble to try to eat them.

The pink banana is native to East Himalaya to Assam. It is found primarily in subtropical areas.

The genus name, Musa, is named in honor of Antonia Musa, who was a Roman physician in the 1st century B.C. Musa is also a male name of Arabic origin. It means "saved from the water" and is based on the name Moses. The specific epithet, velutina, is Latin and means "velvety" and most likely references the pink velvety fruit of the pink banana.

This plant performs best in full sun and moist, well-drained, humus-rich soils. It does not tolerate drought and will need to be watered frequently. A sheltered location is preferred to prevent wind damage to the foliage. The plants will die back to the ground when cold weather appears, and they will reemerge in the spring. It is evergreen in warmer frost-free climates and is propagated by seeds or division.

The trunk is called a pseudo-stem or false stem which has layers of leaf sheaths that are rolled into cylinder-like shapes. The leaves emerge from the center of the pseudo-stem. After planting, it will take 9 to 12 months for the pink banana to produce flowers and another 3 months for the fruits to ripen.

Consider the pink banana to add a tropical feel to your landscape. It may be used as a specimen, container plant, and planted around a patio or pool. In colder climates, it will need to be brought indoors or allowed to die back during the winter season.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom: Summer      Foliage: Spring and Summer; evergreen in subtropical areas    Fruit: Summer and Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • paddle-shaped, dark green leaves, 3 feet long
  • cream to yellow flowers in arching spikes with pink bracts
  • bright pink, 3-inch long, velvety bananas with multiple hard black seeds and creamy white flesh

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: The pink banana has no serious insect or disease problems. Monitor red spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Juniper Level Botanic Gardens: Banana Beds
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#edible plant#specimen#pink flowers#showy fruits#pink fruits#edible fruits#poolside planting#green leaves#HS302#tropical feel#container plant#perennial#patio#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#edible plant#specimen#pink flowers#showy fruits#pink fruits#edible fruits#poolside planting#green leaves#HS302#tropical feel#container plant#perennial#patio#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Musa
    Species:
    velutina
    Family:
    Musaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The fruits are used for food, medicine, fertilizer, and polishing leather. The leaves are used to wrap food while it is being steamed. In Central America, the leaves are used to make tamales instead of using corn husks.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    East Himalaya to Assam
    Distribution:
    Introduced; Brazil, Costa Rica, Myanmar, and Puerto Rico
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts birds and butterflies.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    Fruits have soft, sweet flesh that can be eaten but the numerous seeds are very hard.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Pink
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are 3 inches long, pink, and fuzzy. The fruit splits open when ripened. The flesh is sweet, creamy white, and edible but contains many hard black seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    Bracts
    Flower Description:
    Cream to yellow tubular flowers with pink bracts appear in late summer.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Shape:
    Spatulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are dark green, paddle-shaped, and measure 3 feet long.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The leaf sheaths overlap to form a truck-like pseudo-stem that lives through fruit production. New shoots appear to form new pseudo-stems.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Patio
    Pool/Hardscape
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Songbirds