Blood banana

List of banana cultivars East African Highland bananas Musa acuminata

Blood banana
Musa acuminata Syn zebrina HabitusLeaves BotGardBln0906.jpg
A typical young specimen
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Musaceae
Genus: Musa
M. a. var. zebrina
Trinomial name
Musa acuminata var. zebrina
  • Musa acuminata var. zebrina
    (Van Houtte ex Planch.) Nasution
  • Musa rojo
  • Musa sumatrana
  • Musa sumatrana
    Becc. ex André
  • Musa sumatrana 'Rubra'
  • Musa zebrina
    Van Houtte ex Planchon
  • Musa zebrina
    (Van Houtte) Backer
  • Musa zebrina 'Rojo'

The blood banana (Musa acuminata var. zebrina), is a variety of the wild banana Musa acuminata native to Sumatra, Indonesia. The blood banana is an ornamental plant, named for the dark red patches on its leaves, though its small-seeded fruits are also edible. It grows 6' to 8' tall in the wild, but is well-adapted to container growing and can be maintained at 3' to 5'. It grows best in full or partial sun and is hardy in zones 9 - 11. [1]

Taxonomy and nomenclature

The blood banana is a variety of the wild banana species Musa acuminata, one of the two ancestors of modern edible bananas. It was once classified as separate species under the now invalid names (synonyms) Musa zebrina and Musa sumatrana.[2] It was also sometimes incorrectly classified as a cultivar.[citation needed] The variety is not accepted by some sources, including the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, which regards it as part of the nominate subspecies of Musa acuminata, M. acuminata subsp. acuminata.[3]

The blood banana is also known as the red banana tree, though it should not be confused with the red banana cultivar. Other common names in English include seeded red banana, Sumatra ornamental banana, and maroon-variegated banana plant. They are also known as banano rojo in Spanish, ゼブリナバナナ (zeburina banana) in Japanese, กล้วยมะนี (kluai ma ni) in Thai, and chuối kiểng in Vietnamese.[4]


Blood bananas are characterized by dark red patches of variable sizes on their dark green leaves. Their pseudostems are characteristically very slender. They bear small, slender fruits filled with grape-like seeds.[5]


Blood bananas are native to Java, Indonesia. They are notable for being one of the earliest banana subspecies to be spread by humans out of Southeast Asia. Introduced eastward to Africa, they became the ancestors for the genetically distinct and commercially important East African Highland bananas (Mutika/Lujugira subgroup of the AAA group).[5]

It is probably the only seeded banana to ever be introduced into Hawaii before European contact. It is known as the maiʻa ʻoa in Hawaiian, though the name is also applied to the species Musa balbisiana, which was introduced later on.[5]


See also


  1. ^ "Musa sumatrana 'Zebrina' Rojo Banana from AgriStarts". www.agristarts.com. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Musa acuminata Colla var. zebrina (Van Houtte ex Planch.) Nasution". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  3. ^ "Musa acuminata var. zebrina". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  4. ^ Michel H. Porcher (March 22, 2011). "Sorting Musa names". The University of Melbourne. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Randy C. Ploetz; Angela Kay Kepler; Jeff Daniells & Scot C. Nelson (2007). "Banana and plantain — an overview with emphasis on the Pacific island cultivars" (PDF). Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry. Retrieved June 5, 2011.