Ensete edule

Ensete edule P. F. Horaninow, Prodromus Monographiae Scitaminarum : 41 (1862).

Accepted name Ensete ventricosum (F. M. J. Welwitsch) E. E. Cheesman, Kew Bulletin 2 (2): 101 (1947) and R. E. D. Baker & N. W. Simmonds, Kew Bulletin 8 (3): 405 (1953) with correction in Kew Bulletin 8 (4): 574 (1953).
Synonyms Musa ensete J. F. Gmelin, Syst. Nat. ed. 13, 2: 567 (1791) and J. E. G. Baker, Annals of Botany 7: 205 (1893).
Authorities The source for the accepted name is Baker and Simmonds 1953 as corrected (see below).

The synonym is from Cheesman 1947a.

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons Ensete edule Bruce ex Horan., Prodr. Monogr. Scitam.: 40 (1862), nom. illeg. (synonym Musa ensete J.F.Gmel., Syst. Nat. 2: 567 (1791)) as a synonym of Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman, Kew Bull. 2: 101 (1947 publ. 1948) which is given as the accepted name.

Distribution Africa.
Description See Ensete ventricosum for a description of this polymorphic species.

See Musa ensete for a description of that taxon.

References Baker & Simmonds 1953 : 405, Cheesman 1947a : 97 & 100, GRIN, Horaninow 1862 : 41, Lock 1993 : 3, Mobot Tropicos, Novak 1992, Sagot 1887 : 328.
Comments This is the "prototype" Ensete species described by P. F. Horaninow when he created the genus Ensete in his Prodromus Monographiae Scitaminarum of 1862. The plant was first described and figured by the traveller Bruce and Horaninow erroneously credited Bruce with the first valid publication of both the generic and binomial name. As Cheesman points out, Bruce used "Ensete" merely as a transcription of the plant's vernacular name ("Enset").

Although Ensete edule was the first and only Ensete named by Horaninow it came to be reduced to a synonym of Ensete ventricosum. This occurred as follows.

In 1859 Welwitsch named an Angolan banana species Musa ventricosa (meaning big-bellied or pot-bellied) on account of its swollen stem base. This species seems not to have been known to Horaninow who did not include it in his 1862 conspectus of Musa. In reviving the genus Ensete in 1947 Cheesman took Ensete edule as his type and created a further 24 Ensete species including Ensete ventricosum by transfer of Musa ventricosa. From the outset Cheesman suspected there might be synonymy in his list of 25 Ensete species and this indeed proved to be the case.

Baker & Simmonds' 1953 review of the genus Ensete in Africa radically reduced the number of species either rejecting or reducing to synonyms most of Cheesman's African Ensete. Baker and Simmonds' original paper maintained Ensete edule as the principal African Ensete. However, when it was noticed that, via Musa ventricosa, Ensete ventricosum took priority over Ensete edule by three years a substantial correction appeared in the following issue of Kew Bulletin that reduced Ensete edule to a synonym of Ensete ventricosum (please refer to R. E. D. Baker & N. W. Simmonds, Kew Bulletin 8 (4): 574 (1953)). Musa ensete of course dates to 1791 and has priority over the other names. However, the name was not available to use since it would have created the unacceptable tautology of Ensete ensete.

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last updated 23/11/2007