Musa sapientum

Musa sapientum L.

Accepted name Musa (AAB group) 'Silk fig' aka 'Apple banana' aka 'Rasthali'
Synonyms 1. Musa paradisiaca L.
2. Musa
x paradisiaca L.
3. Musa acuminata L. A. Colla
4. Musa paradisiaca L. subsp. Musa sapientum J. G. Baker
5. Musa rosacea N. J. von Jacquin
6. Musa violacea J. G. Baker
Authorities The accepted name is from Stover & Simmonds 1987.   Synonymy sources are as follows:

For Musa sapientum:

1. from the Flora of Guandong
2. from GRIN; Huxley 1992
3. from Hotta 1989
4. a slightly odd construction from Burkill 1935 who seems to have things the wrong way round.

For Musa x sapientum:

5 & 6. from Argent 1984

References Argent 1984, Burkill 1935, Cheesman 1948a, Cheesman 1948c, Cullen 1997, Fawcett 1913 : 263, Flora Guandong, Griffiths 1994, GRIN, Hotta 1989, Huxley 1992, Mobot Tropicos, RHS 1956, Sagot 1887 : 329, Stover & Simmonds 1987.
Comments According to Cheesman 1948a (p. 13) "Musa sapientum is the most confounded and confusing combination in the whole literature of Musa".


The very different synonymy offered for the different forms of the name seem striking but are probably not.

According to Stover & Simmonds, Linnaeus originally applied the name Musa sapientum to the 'Silk fig' (AAB group). 

Some authors (e.g. Burkill 1935) use the name Musa sapientum to apply to the desert 'bananas' and Musa paradisiaca to apply to 'plantains' (cooking bananas).  Cullen 1997 says Musa sapientum is the "cultivated banana".  On the other hand, RHS 1956 uses the name Musa paradisiaca to apply to both 'plantains' and 'bananas'.

Somewhat oddly, the plant is listed as a Famine Food.  This may be a reference to the vegetative parts of the plant rather than the fruit. The terminal (male) part of the inflorescence is cooked and eaten and the pedicel is also chopped, cooked and eaten e.g. in India.

Ethnobotanical information on bananas at the USDA ethnobotanical database is given under this name.


last revision 23 April 2003