Discovering New Guinea’s Majestic Mountain Ranges: Home to Giant Bananas

Musa ingens is considered the largest plant species in the Musaceae family. It is found in the tropical montane rainforests across New Guinea and Indonesia, at elevations of 1300 to 2000 meters.

The pseudostem of Musa ingens is slightly swollen towards the base and covered in a whitish waxy layer. Its leaves can reach a length of 5 meters and the trunk to at least 15 m tall, about a meter in diameter at the base and a total plant height of 20 m or more. It is the undisputed record holder for the largest and tallest of the bananas and the largest non-woody plant in the world.

It surely is one of the wonders of nature how an herbaceous plant growing from an underground rhizome and producing densely packed leaf bases can reach a size larger than many woody trees.

The large inflorescence can hold over 300 oblong fruits to 18cm long that are filled with blackish brown seeds and yellowish pulp that is edible, sweet, and delicious. Few seeds have ever made it into cultivation in the past and most have perished before their time because they were handled incorrectly or picked immature.

Due to its highland habitat, it will not grow in tropical lowland climates but succeed only at some altitude where nights are cooler, or in oceanic, warm temperate climates such as Portugal, northern New Zealand, coastal California, coastal southern Brazil, or on Atlantic islands such as Madeira or the Canary Islands.

Germination is likely most successful in conditions similar to those in their natural habitat. In the case of Musa ingens, that is damp, with warm days and cool nights. They cannot grow in deep shade. They are opportunistic plants with seeds that may lie in the soil for many years.

Scroll to Top