Ensete giganteum

Ensete giganteum [as gigantea] (C. E. O. Kuntze, Revisio Genera Plantarum 2: 691 (1891)) T. Nakai, Bulletin of the Tokyo Science Museum 22: 12 (1948).

Accepted name none - species dubia
Synonyms Musa gigantea C. E. O. Kuntze, Revisio Genera Plantarum 2: 691 (1891).
Authorities The authorities for the name, and synonym, being considered as species dubia are Cheesman 1947a and Simmonds 1960.

However, the World Checklist of Monocotyledons gives Ensete giganteum (Kuntze) Nakai, Bull. Tokyo Sci. Mus. 22: 12 (1948) (synonym Musa gigantea Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 691 (1891)) as a synonym of Ensete glaucum (Roxb.) Cheesman, Kew Bull. 2: 101 (1947 publ. 1948) which is given as the accepted name.

Distribution Sumatra.
Description See Musa gigantea for descriptions of the type of Ensete giganteum.
References Backer & Bakhuizen van den Brink 1968 : 205, Cheesman 1947a : 104, Hotta 1989 : 67, Moore 1957 : 186, Nakai 1948 : 12, Simmonds 1960 : 200.
Comments Hotta lists M. gigantea and E. gigantea as synonyms of E. glaucum however according to Cheesman M. gigantea Kuntze is species dubia.

From Cheesman 1947:

"Musa gigantea Kuntze, Rev. Gen. 691 (1891). Placed by Schumann in the subgenus Physocaulis "not without hesitation". The plant described was in a Java garden, and said to be from Sumatra. The habit suggests an Ensete sp. but the description of the fruit suggests that the plant was virtually sterile, or else had received no pollen (which it would not if the lower flowers were female only and the plant was growing alone). The 8 - 10 small (1 - 3 mm.) and pale seeds in a 3 - 4-angled, scarcely fleshy fruit strongly suggest failure of fertilization. The must remain "species dubia" until more is known about the fruit and seed. Backer does not mention it in his excellent account of Musaceae in Flora van Java".

However, in his idiosyncratic English, Takenosin Nakai comments that "Dr. Backer is sure of this is Musa glauca (see Brittonia III-I, 77 (1938), but such fragmental type specimen consists of pieces of few flowers makes one's easy mistake." While serving as Director of Buitenzorg (Bogor) Botanical Gardens during WW II, Nakai set out to "get the real information of this banana" but was merely shown "three spots where those giants had grown." Despite this, Nakai remained convinced that "Musa gigantea is still growing somewhere in Sumatra". Nakai was aware of Cheesman's 1947 revival of the genus Ensete and obviously considered that that was where Musa gigantea belonged thus creating the new combination Ensete gigantea and placing it with Ensete glaucum in a new section he named Pruinensete.

Not that it matters much but Nakai should have changed the ending of the specific epithet to make it Ensete giganteum and it is occasionally referred to as such.

Despite citing Cheesman (1947a) Backer & Bakhuizen van den Brink in the Flora of Java of 1968 somewhat anachronistically treat Ensete glaucum and Musa gigantea as synonyms of Musa glauca.

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last updated 24/11/2007