Ganesh Mani Pradhan & Son
The Nursery

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Musa sikkimensis growing in the heart of Darjeeling town from a corner of building 

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Musa sikkimensis near a village home near Kalimpong town

Mature and developing fruit

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Musa sikkimensis in habitat in an area with winter frost and occasional snowfall
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Mature fruit on Darjeeling clump, June 2001

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Developing fruit showing almost horizontal inflorescence.

This banana is quite common in Darjeeling town growing near homes. It survives the  winter frost and occasional winter snow . Plants are a source of leaves for use in religious ceremonies and festivals.

Musa sikkimensis

Description: A common wild banana of the Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayan region growing in higher altitudes from 4000ft. elevation to 6,000ft and higher. At this altitude the plants are exposed to winter frost and the occasional winter snowfall. Broad leaves characterised by deep reddish colouring on the underside in emerging new leaves. The color changes to green when the leaf reaches maturity. New leaves also show deep maroon variegation on the leaf surface. On maturity the leaves become green retaining only a red midrib. Not all plants exhibit this variegation and colouring of the underside of the leaves.

Flowering habit: As the stems in a clump matures it produces a strong  inflorescence.  The inflorescence grows out at a stiff angle to the upright stem. In fact, in the developing and fruiting stage it is almost horizontal to the stem. Fruits are about 5 to 6 inches long and angled. When ripe the pulp is sweetish but there is not enough in a fruit. Numerous large, black and angled seeds are produced.

Culture: This is one species found growing up to high elevations and should be relatively cold hardy. As many banana enthusiasts in cold climates experiment with growing this plant we should see cold hardiness results soon. Rich organic compost should contribute to excellent and fast growth.

Habitat distribution: Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas. Found growing in forests in rich forest humus.

Ethnobotany: Seeds powdered and used for stomach disorders. Immature  flowers boiled and made into various curries and salad. Leaves used for serving food in religious and other festivals and feasts.

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Leaf marking on young plant raised from seed. Leaf colouring on upper surface is not found on larger plants. Undersurface of new leaves in some larger and mature plants exhibit colour.

    

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