Unusual & Old Fashioned Fruit Trees


Banana Musa

Strictly speaking Bananas are not trees at all, but herbs that throw up a giant shoot, as they grow, from horizontal underground stems. Bananas comprise of a family of about 40 different tropical species several of which are used commercially for other uses besides food. One such is Musa Textilis that is grown in the Philippines to produce Manila Hemp. Another variety, Musa Paradisiaca produces the Plantain that is a favourite for cooking in some cultures.

Although a native of Asia, various different strains are cultivated around the Mediterranean, especially in gardens and parks, for show. With the milder Winters that we have had in the UK in recent years more and more exotic plants and trees are being offered for sale at numerous garden centres and the Banana is one such plant. 

To even think about growing Bananas in the UK, the garden must be very sheltered, especially from the wind, such as a town garden, and the Banana must be wrapped very well with a good layer of insulation for Winter protection to save the foliage. Having said that many gardening programs on the TV suggest that real gardening enthusiasts might like to grow them as an architectural feature and every Autumn the experts can be seen on TV telling people how to prepare the plants for Winter.

Small varieties, as well as a red leaved one, can often be seen on sale in garden centres sold as pot plants to be grown in a warm conservatory. The Japanese Banana Musa Basjoo and Musa Sikkimensis, or Musa Hookerii as it is sometimes called, are undoubtedly the hardiest and most suitable for gardens in the U.K. Frosts will still cut all of their top growth down without protection, but their roots will happily stand 5 degrees of frost and if planted deep, with a very good mulch on top, may withstand temperatures down to minus 20 degrees centigrade. Provided conditions are good, their top growth will quickly be replaced each year.

There are stories that some varieties have successfully fruited outside in the South of England in recent years, but this is always going to be unlikely.

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