Banana Shrub – Identification

Q: Growing up in Moss Point, Mississippi, I remember a shrub in my cousin’s yard they called a “fresketti”, but I’m not sure of the correct spelling.

It had small yellow blossoms the color of a ripe banana and the fragrance sort of reminds you of a banana. I would love to have one for my yard here.

Are you familiar with such a plant?

A: I think you are remembering the sweet scent of a banana shrub, Michelia figo. It has yellowish blossoms and its fragrance is redolent of banana.

My friend Felder Rushing, gardening raconteur and author of “Passalong Plants”, says its original name was
Magnolia fuscata and that’s where your “fresketti” comes from. In his opinion, banana shrub should grow wherever figs thrive.

Garden designer Ryan Gainey has a large banana shrub in his Decatur garden but most gardeners will tell you that Atlanta is a bit too far north to commonly find banana shrubs in nurseries or in home landscapes. From Macon southward, banana shrub is more common.

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