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Products > Musella lasiocarpa
Musella lasiocarpa - Golden Lotus Banana

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  
Image of Musella lasiocarpa
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tropical
Family: Musaceae (Bananas)
Origin: Yunnan Province (Asia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [Ensete lasiocarpum]
Height: 3-4 feet
Width: 3-4 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 0-10 F
Musella lasiocarpa (Golden Lotus Banana) - A sensational 3-4 foot tall dwarf banana that has an unusual yellow flower that is somewhat reminiscent of that of an ornamental thistle or flower of the King Protea. This perennial was thought to be endemic to South West Yunnan where it grew in the mountainous area up to 7,500 feet in altitude and although cultivated in China and Vietnam, is may be extinct in the wild. It forms 1 - 2 ft. tall stems arising from stout horizontal rhizomes. From the stems emerge 1-2 foot long broad lanceolate blue green leaves. Prior to flowering the older leaves die back and the plant puts out smaller leaves, then the apex of the stem begins to swell until the flower bud, looking a bit like an artichoke, emerges. The flower, actually an 8-12" long terminal panicle, is composed of a dense head of broad yellow bracts below the clusters of 1" long tubular yellow flowers. Plant in full sun to light shade and give regular irrigation in summer. As this plant reportedly grows in the mountainous areas of Yunnan where it survives regular frosts, it should prove to be quite cold hardy; some report it hardy to USDA zone 5 or 6. Plant in a grouping so some plants are in flower while others are in foliage. It was reported that this plant was only recently discovered but it has been known to the Yunnanese since antiquity and was first discovered by western botanists in 1885 . It has caused nomenclatural problems for taxonomists and its current status is still controversial. It was initially placed in the genus Musa but later renamed Ensete lasiocarpum. The plant is considered by many taxonomists to be an anomaly in both Musa and Ensete and some now place it in its own genus, Musella. Common names in Yunnan include names that translate as 'yellow lotus emerging from the earth' or 'yellow lotus of the earth mother' or, more simply, 'rock banana'. The plant is said to be cultivated as pig fodder and is also eaten by people, although for human consumption the plant must be prepared in a special manner to remove some poisonous elements. We grew this odd plant from 2003 until 2009. 

This information about Musella lasiocarpa displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.