Ensete ventricosum

Botanical Name : Ensete ventricosum
Family: Musaceae
Genus: Ensete
Species: E. ventricosum
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Zingiberales

Synonyms: Ensete edule – Bruce. ex Horan.Musa arnoldiana De Wild., Musa ventricosa Welw. and Musa ensete J. F. Gmel

Common Names: False Banana, Ethiopian Banana, Abyssinian Banana

Habitat : Ensete ventricosum occurs along the Eastern Edge of the Great African Plateau, extending northwards from Transvaal in South Africa through Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to Ethiopia, and west to the Democratic Republic of Congo, being found in high rainfall forests on mountains, and along forested ravines and streams.

Description:
Ensete ventricosum in an evergreen Perennial large non-woody tree (technically a gigantic herb) up to 6m tall, it has a stout trunk of tightly overlapping leaf bases, and large banana-like leaf blades of up to 5m x 1m with a salmon-pink midrib. The flowers, which only occur once from the centre of the tree at the end of the tree’s life, are in massive pendant thyrses covered by equally large pink bracts. The fruits are similar to those of the domestic banana, are edible but insipid, with hard, black, rounded seeds. The plant is quick-growing and some colourful varieties are widely cultivated as an ornamental. After flowering the plant dies back. The young and tender tissues in the centre or heart of the tree (the growing point) may be cooked and eaten, being tasty and nutritious and very like the core of palms and cycads

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Ensete ventricosum
Ensete ventricosum (Photo credit: pris.sears)

It is hardy to zone 10 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:
Requires a very sheltered sunny position in a fertile moisture-retentive soil. This species is not very hardy in Britain but it succeeds outdoors on the Scilly Islands and is sometimes used in sub-tropical bedding. Plants can survive light frosts but they require ample shelter from the wind. It should be possible to grow plants in tubs, keeping them outdoors in the summer and bringing them into a greenhouse or conservatory in the winter. The leaves can be up to 6 metres long.

Propagation:
Sow the large seed in individual pots in a heated greenhouse at any time of the year. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water beforehand. Germination should take place within 3 months. Grow on the plants for at least a couple of winters in the greenhouse before attempting to grow them outdoors. Division of suckers in spring. Try to get as much of the sucker’s roots out as possible without disturbing the main plant too much. Pot the suckers up and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse until they are established.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Root; Seed; Stem.

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The chopped and grated pulp of the corms and leaf sheaths is fermented and used as a flour in making kocho bread. 100% kocho flour or a mixture of kocho and other cereal flours may be used. It is said to taste like a good quality bread. The endosperm of the seed is consumed as a food. The base of the flower stalk is edible cooked.

The species has been cultivated in Ethiopia for thousands of years where it is still considered to be one of the most important and widely cultivated root crops. The pseudostems, corms and stems of flowering branches are used to make a starchy product which is fermented in a pit and then made into a kind of pancake, bread, and porridge.

“Enset provides more amount of foodstuff per unit area than most cereals. It is estimated that 40 to 60 enset plants occupying 250-375 sq. meters can provide enough food for a family of 5 to 6 people.” – Country Information Brief.

(In Ethiopia, more than 150 000 ha are cultivated for the starchy staple food prepared from the pulverised trunk and inflorescence stalk. Fermenting these pulverised parts results in a food called ‘kocho’. ‘Bulla’ is made from the liquid squeezed out of the mixture and sometimes eaten as a porridge, while the remaining solids are suitable for consumption after a settling period of some days. Mixed kocho and bulla can be kneaded into dough, then flattened and baked over a fire. Kocho is in places regarded as a delicacy, suitable for serving at feasts and ceremonies such as weddings, when wheat flour is added. The fresh corm is cooked like potatoes before eating. Dry kocho and bulla are energy-rich and produce from 1400 to 2000kJ per 100g.)

Medicinal Uses:
The ensete pseudostem has medicinal uses.People of south Africa make herbal medicines to get relieve from different ailments.

 

Other Uses:

The fibre obtained from the plant is very good quality fibre, suitable for ropes, twine, baskets, and general weaving, is obtained from the leaves. Dried leaf-sheaths are used as packing material, serving the same function as Western foam plastic and polystyrene. The fibre obtained from the plant is very good quality fibre, suitable for ropes, twine, baskets, and general weaving, is obtained from the leaves. Dried leaf-sheaths are used as packing material, serving the same function as Western foam plastic and polystyrene.  Also used for animal fodder, shade, adornment, roof thatch, and dye. The seeds are used as beads for ornamentation.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ensete_ventricosum
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Ensete+ventricosum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ensete+ventricosum

http://anthropogen.com/2009/10/02/ensete-ventricosum-wild-banana-ihindu-kiduyu-ikulutui-kamba-getembe-maasai/

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