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Musaceae, Ensete ventricosum, Wild Banana, Ihindu (Kiduyu), Ikulutui (Kamba), Getembe (Maasai)

October 2, 2009

Below are photos of Ensete growing in the wild in East Africa.

Like the domesticated banana, Ensete is technically classified as an herb, the largest herbaceous plant the world. E. ventricosum can grow up to 12 m in height. In Kenya the plant is widespread in the highland areas, both cultivated and growing wild. It can be found most commonly in the wild along streams in upland valleys, ravines, and on the lower slopes of mountains, typically between 1,000 – 2,400 m.

The Ensete pseudostem has medicinal uses, also used for animal fodder, shade, adornment, roof thatch, and dye. The seeds are used as beads for ornamentation.

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, FAO

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