Red Abyssinian (Ensete maurelii)
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.