Ravenala madagascariensis is an evergreen, flowering, large herbaceous, perennial tree with a symmetrical crown. Grows to 10m tall with a spread of 6m and a30cm stem diameter. Noted as reaching 18m tall in its native habitat. Initially slow-growing, developing a medium growth rate of 30-60cm p/a once established and a strong stem is formed.
Long leaves are grey-green, simple, alternate and held in a distichous pattern, forming a flat paddle-shaped fan, oblong, up to 5m long by up to 1m wide Petioles are as long or sometimes slightly shorter than the blade, are channelled and tightly overlap.