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From Arabic mouz or moz for banana tree. It probably was named after Antonius Musa (63BC -14 AD), physician to the first Roman emperor, Octavius Augustus. By 1633 the name banana, which is what they call the fruit in the Congo, had also entered the vocabulary


Musas can grow to about 1.5m (5ft) tall and have attractive large green leaves. Musa acuminata "Dwarf Cavendish" often has purple blotches on the leaves


Far East and tropical Australia



Care tips 

As you would expect, keep it warm - minimum16°C (60°F) and in bright light including some direct sun. Keep the compost very moist and mist the leaves frequently. It will do best in a humid conservatory or a sunny windowsill in a warm steamy bathroom. Chances are that you will not be eating any bananas from it. Feed it monthly in the growth period and occasionally sponge the leaves very gently as they are quite delicate. It will benefit from a spell outside in the summer but do not let it dry out.


Banana fruits were brought to the West from the 17C onwards, but the plants were first cultivated in 1829, when the Wardian case (a small glasshouse structure) was used to transport tropical plants. It was successfully grown at Chatsworth for the 6th Duke of Devonshire in that year and a few years later transferred to Kew Gardens.