African native grown for its lush, tropical-looking foliage. For fruit-bearing banana trees, see Banana. Fast growing to 1520 feet high, 1015 feet wide. Dark green leaves with stout midribs grow out in arching form from a single vertical stem; each leaf is 1020 feet long, 24 feet wide. 'Maurelii' has dark red leafstalks and leaves tinged with red on upper surface, especially along edges. 'Red Stripe' has green leaves with a red midrib. Bloom typically occurs 2 to 5 years after planting, when inconspicuous flowers form within a cylinder of bronzy red bracts at end of stem. Plant dies to roots after flowering; it's possible to grow new plants from the shoots that will sprout from the crown but easier simply to discard the old plant and replace it with a new one from the nursery. Unlike fruiting bananas, Abyssinian banana doesn't form suckers.
Leaves are easily shredded by wind, so plant in a wind- sheltered location. Evergreen only in the Tropical South. Root-hardy in Coastal and Lower South and survives temperatures down to 10F if mulched heavily in late fall and kept dry. Attractive near swimming pools. Good container subject to grow outdoors in summer, move indoors or into a greenhouse over winter.