Ensete proboscideum

Ensete proboscideum (D. Oliver, in Hooker's Icones Plantarum 18, t. 1777 (1888)) E. E. Cheesman, Kew Bulletin 2 (2): 102 (1947).

Accepted name none - type rejected as nomen dubium.
Synonyms Musa proboscidea D. Oliver, in Hooker's Icones Plantarum 18, t. 1777 (1888).
Authorities The authority for the name being rejected as nomen dubium is Baker & Simmonds 1953 as corrected (see below) nothwithstanding Cheesman 1947a and Lock 1993.

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons gives Ensete proboscideum (Oliv.) Cheesman, Kew Bull. 2: 102 (1947 publ. 1948) (Musa proboscidea Oliv., Hooker's Icon. Pl. 18: t. 1777 (1888)) as a synonym of Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman, Kew Bull. 2: 101 (1947 publ. 1948) which is given as the accepted name.

Distribution Tanzania (Ukami hills)

See Musa proboscidea for a description of the type.

References Aluka, Baker 1893: 207, Baker & Simmonds 1953: 408, Champion 1967: 42, Cheesman 1947a: 102, Lebrun & Stork 1995, Lock 1993, Mobot Tropicos, Oliver 1888, WCM.
Comments Cheesman created Ensete proboscideum as a new combination (number 7 out of 25) in a brief note in his 1947 paper reviving the genus Ensete. Cheesman revived one and created 24 Ensete species in that paper but acknowledged that field study might reveal synonymy. However, Baker & Simmonds consider instead that the type Musa proboscidea must be rejected based on the type being regarded as nomen dubium because: "The photograph [of the type] shows a plant probably 8 - 10 ft. high (there is no scale) on which all the leaves are dead and the probably over-ripe bunch bears a very long male rachis from which all the bracts have fallen. The seed resembles that of E. gilletii but approaches E. edule in size (10 x 10 x 11 mm.). It is most probably a small-seeded form of E. edule but the inadequacy of description and typification constrain us to treat it as a nomen dubium". Baker & Simmonds thus reject Cheesman's Ensete proboscideum.

Although apparently citing Baker & Simmonds 1953, Lock 1993 gives a slightly different interpretation. Having studied Kirk's type material at Kew, Lock states that "the seeds are undoubtedly those of Ensete ventricosum, although a little smaller than average" and Lock accepts Musa proboscoidea (sic) and Ensete proboscoideum (sic) as "doubtful" synonyms of Ensete ventricosum.

It should be noted that in addition to Lock authors including Aluka & Mobot Tropicos spell the name proboscoideum (-ea) instead of proboscideum (-ea); I have not checked Hooker's Icones Plantarum and do not know if this is a typographical error.

Holotype: Kirk s.n. (in Kew); a packet of seeds from "the hills of Ukami about 100 miles inland to the West of the Island of Zanzibar", and 3 Baker & Simmonds) or 4 (Baker) photographs, probably of cultivated plants growing in Zanzibar by Sir John Kirk.


There is one external image of Musa proboscoidea at the Aluka website http://www.aluka.org.

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last updated 10/01/2008