In 1867 Monsieur Chaté writes, “This species was formerly described in the English, Dutch, and German horticultural journals under the name of C. excelsa. It was named 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.
This was the earliest reference I have been able to trace to those cannas with banana-like foliage, and it was ‘poshed-up’ with the letter ‘æ’… how those early botanists tried to show of their educational and intellectual prowess! It raises the question of how we should be spelling it nowadays, as we seem to have a list of possible names to choose from:
Looking at the list I think that we can eliminate option 1. immediately, as very few people have keyboards that include the single letter ‘æ’ key. Option 2. can be eliminated without debate, because what is the letter ‘e’ adding to the simple name depicting ‘banana foliage’?
Now we come to option 3., a popular spelling in the last 20 years or so, although not seen earlier. So what does ‘Musifolia’ mean? I don’t know what a Musi is, or whether my canna foliage resembles it!
This leaves the only sensible option, number 4., Musafolia. The word is made up of two conjoined words ‘Musa‘ (the scientific name of the banana genus) and ‘folia‘ (the Late Latin name for a leaf).
So there we have it, the only logical name for the group of cannas that have leaves resembling those of the Musa Genus is ‘Musafolia’. Needless to say, most people will carry on spelling it how they always have done, but at least I have offered my explanation and reasoning for why it should be spelt ‘Musafolia’.