"The plants are large tropical and subtropical perennial herbs with a rhizomatous rootstock."
"This species was formerly described in the English, Dutch, and German horticultural journals under the name of C. excelsa. It was named C. musæfolia by Monsieur Théodore Année, who introduced it into France in 1858, from the resemblance of its leaves to those of the Musa or banana-tree. It reaches a height of more than 8 ft. and has green, downy stems, and very large, oval, green leaves. Flowers small, orange-yellow. It is a tender species without rhizomes, and requires to be kept constantly growing. Peru."
We now hear from Dale McDonnel in her excellent article The effects of drought on Cannas, 19 November 2007 on this blog, that she is also the custodian of such a Canna freak. Dale obtained her specimen from the old Bendigo Canna Collection. It long ago lost its identity and is either another of the very early French hybrids or a species Canna. Dale nicknamed it "The Bendigo Banana" because of its close resemblance to a Musa. It has never flowered for her and cannot be identified until it does. The foliage is a pale, lettuce green, poised on long, arching pedicels. The long leaves, have prominent, close veins, undulate margins and fold downwards. In windy weather these split and look just like Musa foliage. It does not tiller like other cannas. Each leaf stalk arises from an individual small conical knob.
In his book, Le Canna, Monsieur Chaté also described two hybrids that Monsieur Année had raised, based on C. musaefolia. The first was C. 'Musaefolia Minima' , which he described as
"Leaves of a whitish green, badly set. Flowers small, orange brown. No rootstocks. Introduced by Théodore Année, Passy, France, EU in 1860."
"Stems from 5 ft. to 6½ ft. high. Leaves broad, very firm, of a handsomish whiteish green. Flowers small, yellow. Roots fiberous, without rootstocks. Introduced by Théodore Année, Passy, France, EU in 1862."
Based on Monsieur Chaté's descriptions we can speculate that what many gardeners call Canna 'Musaefolia' is, in fact, one of the five hybrids raised by Monsieur Année. Two of them are described above and have no rhizomes, so that leaves three known possibilities, C. 'Musaefolia Hybrida', C. 'Musaefolia Peruviana' or C. 'Musaefolia Rubra'. They may, of course, be an example of C. 'Musaefolia Grande', introduced by Herb Kelly from Venezuela in 1989.
Finally, we must not forget that there may have been subsequent cultivars raised in the interim period since Monsieur Chaté authored his classical canna book in 1867, however, all focus was switched to the floriferous Crozy Group from that time onwards. We have been lucky enough to acquire the three separate Musaefolia cultivars with rhizomes, all named. They were not spelled correctly, but hey, after 150 years that is not a big deal.