Red Abyssinian (Ensete maurelii)

Red Abyssinian (Ensete maurelii)

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Red Abyssinian is a very attractive perennial plant that adds a brilliant pop of color to any landscape. It's closely related to banana plants and has a very tropical, with the added bonus of cold tolerance to Zone 8!  It's sometimes referred to as False Banana, Enset, or Ensente. Red Abyssinian is cultivated for it's highly ornamental red to burgundy foliage and edible root.  Although the root is rare to consume in the U.S., it's a very important food crop in Ethiopia. 

It grows quickly and effortlessly.  Like bananas, these plants spread through suckers and produce a banana like fruit, although these ones aren't very edible. Also like bananas, Red Abysinnian's aren't fruit trees, but rather monocarpic perennial herb plants!  They can grow up to 10 feet tall in temperate areas and up to 20 feet tall in sub-tropical areas. Best planted in full sun, which will bring a brighter coloration in the leaves, but it's important to provide protection from strong winds as they can damage the leaves.   Fun Fact:  Native to Eastern Africa, Abyssinia is actually an older name for Ethiopia, which, along with Kenya, is the heart of what we now call East Africa.

Plant Type
Fruit Tree / Evergreen Perennial Herb

Did you know? The banana plant is actually an evergreen perennial herb, not a tree! The large ‘trunk’ is actually a pseudostem, which is made of bulky, leafy layers that emerge and wither over time. 

Harvest Season
Year-round

With good care, bananas will fruit within the first 15-18 months of planting. 

Mature Size
Really varies depending on variety. Some dwarf banana varieties grow only to 2-3 ft where other banana types reach up to 40 ft tall. Banana plants can be grown easily in containers and overwintered indoors if needed.

Banana plants are fast-growing, and prone to reproducing new plants through mini clones known as suckers.

Soil & Moisture
Rich, moist well-drained soil, nitrogen-rich soil, and humid conditions similar to their native areas tropical and subtropical regions. In well-drained soil, bananas can almost never get enough water, sunlight, and nutrients. 

Light Requirements
Full Sun, Part Shade

Self-Fertile
Yes

Growth Rate
Fast

Zone Hardiness
Outdoors 9-11 with frost protection; Patio/Greenhouse 4+

How to Grow Red Abyssinian

Plant Type: Perennial Herb

Harvest Season: Mid - late Summer 

Mature Size: 6-20 ft.

Soil & Moisture: Rich, moist, well-draining soil

Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade.  The higher the sun, the more vibrant the foliage!

Zone Hardiness: 8-11

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