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Ensete (Enset) is one of three genera of plants in the banana family, Musaceae, native to tropical regions of Africa and Asia.

The genus Ensete was first described by Paul Fedorowitsch Horaninow (1796-1865) in his Prodromus Monographiae Scitaminarum of 1862 in which he created a single species, Ensete edule. However, the genus did not receive general recognition until 1947 when it was revived by E. E. Cheesman in the first of a series of papers in the Kew Bulletin on the classification of the bananas, with a total of 25 species.

Taxonomically, the genus Ensete has shrunk since Cheesman revived the genus. Cheesman acknowledged that field study might reveal synonymy and the most recent review of the genus by Simmonds (1960) listed just six. Recently the number has increased to seven as the Flora of China has, not entirely convincingly, reinstated Ensete wilsonii. There is one species in Thailand, somewhat resembling E. superbum, that has not been formally described, and possibly other Asian species.

It is possible to separate Ensete into its African and Asian species.

Ensete gilletii
Ensete homblei
Ensete perrieri - endemic to Madagascar but intriguingly like the Asian E. glaucum
Ensete ventricosum - Enset or "false banana", sometimes used in Ethiopian cuisine (particularly Gurage cuisine).
Ensete glaucum - widespread in Asia from India to Papua New Guinea
Ensete superbum - Western Ghats of India
Ensete wilsonii - Yunnan, China, but doubtfully distinct from E. glaucum
Ensete sp. "Thailand" - possibly a new species or a disjunct population of E. superbum

Domesticated enset in Ethiopia

"Enset provides more amount of foodstuff per unit area than most cereals. It is estimated that 40 to 60 enset plants occupying 250-375 sq. meters can provide enough food for a family of 5 to 6 people." – Country Information Brief, FAO June 1995

Enset (Ensete ventricosum) is commonly known as "false banana" for its close resemblance to the domesticated banana plant. It is Ethiopia's most important root crop, a traditional staple crop in the densely populated south and southwestern parts of Ethiopia. The root is the main edible portion as its fruit is not edible. Each plant takes four to five years to mature, at which time a single root will give 40 kg of food. Due to the long period of time from planting to harvest, plantings need to be staggered over time, to ensure that there is enset available for harvest in every season. Enset will tolerate drought better than most cereal crops.

Wild enset plants are produced from seeds, while most domesticated plants are propagated from suckers. Up to 400 suckers can be produced from just one mother plant. In 1994 3,000 km² of enset where grown in Ethiopia, with a harvest estimated to be almost 10 tonnes per ha. Enset is often intercropped with sorghum.

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