Red Trunk Popo'Ulu Banana (Musa popoulu)
The Red Trunk Popo'ulu Banana (Musa popoulu) is a distinctive and eye-catching variety of banana plant, known for its unique red-colored trunk. This tropical plant often reaches a height of up to 10-15 feet, providing a striking visual presence in any garden or greenhouse setting. The trunk, which is the most remarkable feature, exhibits a deep red or maroon hue that contrasts beautifully with the lush green of its large, elongated leaves. These leaves can grow several feet in length and are broad, offering a dense canopy.
In terms of fruit, the Red Trunk Popo'ulu Banana produces bunches of bananas that are smaller and plumper compared to the common banana varieties. The fruit uniquely rectangular fruit is praised for its delightful sweet apple-like taste, distinctive salmon pink pulp, and creamy texture, making it a favorite among banana enthusiasts. However, the primary appeal of this variety is ornamental due to its vibrant trunk and lush foliage.
The plant thrives in warm, humid environments and requires well-drained soil. It needs regular watering, but overwatering should be avoided to prevent root rot. The Red Trunk Popo'ulu Banana also benefits from regular fertilization during the growing season to support its rapid growth and fruit production.
This variety is somewhat rare and is often sought after by collectors and tropical plant enthusiasts for its unique appearance and the aesthetic it brings to gardens and tropical landscapes. Initially mistaken for a Hawaiian banana, the Red Trunk Popo’Ulu has now been identified as the Tongan Banana known as Putalinga Kula, which journeyed to Hawaii alongside Tongans in the 1960s.
(Mature Popoulu Banana photo credit: A. Vécina, Bioversity)