- Giant highland banana, Musa ingens
- 15 m tall / 0.94 m wide dimension(s)
- Not Applicable ()
The largest species of banana plant is the giant highland banana (Musa ingens) native to the tropical montane forests of New Guinea. Its main “trunk” regularly reaches heights of 15 metres (49 feet) and its unfurled leaves as high as 20 metres (66 feet) off the ground. There’s evidence of Musa ingens “trunks” growing to 94 centimetres (3 feet) in diameter at breast height (DBH) – the standard for measuring tree trunk girth. Its bunches of bananas, growing on up-to-15-metre-long (49-foot) peduncles (stems), can hold around 300 fruit that in total weigh as much as 60 kilograms (132 pounds). The individual oblong-shaped fruits are around 18 centimetres (7 inches) long and are edible when cooked, with a similar flavour and texture to plantains.
Although growing to tree-size proportions, banana plants don’t technically have “trunks” but rather pseudostems, which are tightly wound clusters of leaf-stalks (petioles) from which the leaves will unfurl. Because banana plants grow anew each year (i.e., they have no woody parts that persist through winter such as trees and shrubs) they are botanically considered herbs.
There are reports of specimens of this plant reaching as tall as 30 m (98 ft) but these have not been scientifically ratified.
Another contender for the title of largest herb, with flower spikes also reaching up to 15 m (49 ft) tall, is the Queen of the Andes (Puya raimondii), a bromeliad native to the high Andes of Peru and Bolivia.