Musa sp. (Helen's Hybrid)
An interesting new discovery from the foothills of the eastern Himalayas in the Darjeeling district, home to so many fabulous plants. This beautiful banana seems to be a hybrid between Musa sikkimensis and Musa "Chini-Champa", a cultivar with very sweet and tasty fruits, popular in this area of India. While Musa "Chini-Champa" seems to bring some of the fruit quality and color, namely the red leaf-midribs, reddish leaf undersides, waxy white leafstalks and reddish stems into this marriage, Musa sikkimensis must be responsible for the cold-hardiness that enables it to grow here between 1400 and 1700 m (4700 and 5500 ft.). The fruits of course do have seeds, but otherwise their quality is quite agreeable, perhaps as close as one can get to a cold tolerant edible banana.