Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman
  • (Welw.) Cheesman, Kew Bull. 2: 101 (1947 publ. 1948)

This taxon is accepted by WCS higher taxonomy

General Description

Giant herb arising from a short upright rhizome. Pseudostem formed of the overlapping leaf-bases, 1.5-5 m. tall. Leaf-blades erect or spreading, forming a large rosette, oblong-lanceolate, to 5 × 1.5 m., glaucous or not, midrib red or green. Inflorescence appearing from the centre of the rosette, pendulous when mature. Bracts of the ? part of the inflorescence persistent or partially deciduous, each subtending ± 30-40 flowers. Outer tepal of ? flowers 3-lobed, the lobes variable in length, 3.5-5.5 cm. long, white with orange-yellow tips; inner tepal serrate-apiculate, 1-1.5 × 1-1.7 cm., the apiculum 0.3-1.3 cm., or occasionally absent; stamens 5, 3-5 cm. long, anthers violet to purple, filaments white; staminode present or not, acicular, 0.1-1 cm. long; style acicular, 1-2 cm. long. Bracts of the ?/hermaphrodite  part of the inflorescence persistent, partially covering the fruits. Outer tepal 3-lobed, sometimes with 1-2 smaller extra acicular lobes attached to it internally; inner tepals 1-3, variable in shape with 2 wings and an apiculum up to 1.5 cm. long; stamens 0-5, 3.5 cm. long, coloured as in the ? flowers; staminodes variable according to the number of stamens present; style 2.5-4 cm. long, terete, with a large capitate stigma. Fruits 5-20 in the axil of each bract, long-obovoid, 8-15 × 3-4.5 cm., orange at maturity. Seeds irregularly subspherical, 1.2-2.3 × 1.2-1.8 × 0.9-1.6 cm., striate to smooth, hard, black, embedded in orange pulp. Fig. 1.

is the basis of an agricultural system in southern Ethiopia. The corms are harvested just before flowering, and the stored starch extracted.


HAB. Disturbed places in upland forest, often in ravines and on steep slopes, or in swamps and on river banks, but also sometimes in drier lowland forests; 900-2250 m.


Uganda Bwamba Pass, 16 Nov. 1935, A.S. Thomas 1465! & Fort Portal, 8 Apr. 1906, Bagshawe 972!

Tanzania Ngorongoro Crater floor, near Lerai Forest, 15 Nov. 1956, Greenway 9025!

Kenya Mt. Kenya Forest, near Castle Forest Station, 5 Jan. 1967, Perdue & Kibuwa 8418!

Uganda near Paimol, Mar. 1935, Eggeling 1758!

Kenya ±30 km. NW. of Kisumu, 9 Oct. 1948, Baker & Simmonds EA.48!

Tanzania Mbeya Range, 2 Dec. 1961, Kerfoot 3347!

Tanzania W. Usambara Mts., Matondwe Hill at head of Kwai valley, 28 Feb. 1953, Drummond & Hemsley 1341!

Kenya E. of Ngoina tea estate, 13 Dec. 1967, Perdue & Kibuwa 9352!


in KB. 2: 101 (1948); K.T.S.: 10 (1961).

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
  • Introduced distribution
Found in
  • Africa East Tropical Africa Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Northeast Tropical Africa Ethiopia
  • Sudan
  • South Tropical Africa Angola
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Southern Africa Northern Provinces
  • West-Central Tropical Africa Burundi
  • Rwanda
  • Zaire
Introduced into
  • Africa West-Central Tropical Africa Gulf of Guinea Is.
  • Asia-Tropical Malesia Jawa
  • Southern America Southern South America Juan Fernández Is.


  • 1 Figueiredo, E., Paiva, J., Stévart, T., Oliveira, F. & Smith, G.F. (2011). Annotated catalogue of the flowering plants of São Tomé and Príncipe. Bothalia 41: 41-82.
  • 2 Fischer, E., Rembold, K., Althof, A. & Obholzer, J. (2010). Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Kakamega forest, Western province, Kenya. Journal of East African Natural History 99: 129-226.
  • 3 Timberlake, J.R. & Martins, E.S. (eds.) (2010). Flora Zambesiaca 13(4): 1-151. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 4 Nelson Sutherland, C.H. (2008). Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas: 1-1576. SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
  • 5 Albano, P.-O. (2003). La Conaissance des Plantes Exotiques: 1-324. Édisud, Aix-en-Provence.
  • 6 Govaerts, R. (2001). World Checklist of Seed Plants Database in ACCESS E-F: 1-50919.
  • 7 J.M.Lock (1993) Musaceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa 0 (0)

 Information From

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa. Published on the Internet; http://apps.kew.org/efloras/
WCS higher taxonomy
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World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/ Retrieved 2011 onwards
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