Pro-nounced “MOO-sah” or “MU-za,” Musa is one of the showiest of all cut flowers. The blossoms, the stems of which are often 90-120cm long, shoot from the heart of the palm-like plant and are initially long, tapering buds that either stand upright or drape in a pendulous manner, depending on the species.
The Musa genus, which is in the Musaceae family, includes more than 35 species. Some are purely ornamental and bear only the exotic blooms while others also produce edible bananas and plantains. Bananas are native to Asia, Australia and the South Pacific but are now grown in most tropical regions. The name, which may have been derived from the Arabic words “mouz” and/or “moz,” for “banana,” was most likely inspired by Antonius Musa, who was a physician to the first Roman emperor, Octavius Augustus.
Banana flowers are available in a variety of hues, including red, orange, yellow, violet and white. There are also a few bi-colored selections.
Banana blossoms are generally available year-round due to the varying bloom times of the different varieties and the range of regions in which these crops are grown. Major production areas include Hawaii and South America. In order to ensure availability of specific varieties and colors, order well in advance from a florist who carries tropical blossoms.
These exotic specimens must be harvested and selected at peak maturity because they do not develop after they are cut. Some varieties of the banana family have been used for treating snakebites, and banana root can be used to treat worms and bronchitis, but, of course, the edible fruits are much in demand.
It is beneficial to re-cut banana stems and change the flower-food solution every other day. With appropriate care, these blossoms will last for one week to three weeks, or longer. The blooms of some Musa varieties need a little help to open. Gently pull the petals back to reveal the inner “pagoda,” which adds to the flowers’ exotic appeal.
When designing with banana flowers, be sure to secure the large stems in a strong floral-foam base, reinforced with wire if necessary, to keep the flowers upright. These blossoms are excellent dramatic selections for tropical weddings, holidays, commercial offices or for everyday interior decoration.