Musa textilis

Musa textilis L. Née, Anales Ciencias Naturales 4: 123 (1801) sensu J. G. Baker in Ann. Bot. 7: 211 (1893) excl. syn.; Kew Bulletin 1894, 290; C. A. Backer in Flora van Java 3: 134 (1924).
Musa textilis Luis. in F. A. W. Miquel, Flor. Ind. batavæ.

Musa textilis L. Née, Anales Ciencias Naturales 4: 123 (1801) sensu J. G. Baker in Ann. Bot. 7: 211 (1893) excl. syn.; Kew Bulletin 1894, 290; C. A. Backer in Flora van Java 3: 134 (1924).

Accepted name Musa textilis L. Née, Anales Ciencias Naturales 4: 123 (1801) sensu J. G. Baker in Ann. Bot. 7: 211 (1893) excl. syn.; Kew Bulletin 1894, 290; C. A. Backer in Flora van Java 3: 134 (1924).
Synonyms 1. Musa silvestris var. midanauensis G. E. Rumphius
2. Musa silvestris var. amboinensis G. E. Rumphius
3. Musa mindanensis G. E. Rumphius ex F. A. W. Miquel
4. Musa sylvestris L. A. Colla
5. Musa abaca G. (G. G.) S. Perrottet
6. Musa silvestris Lamarie
Authorities The accepted name is from Cheesman 1949l who does not list any formal synonyms.

The sources of the synonyms listed are as follows:

1. is from Hotta 1989 (via synonym 3) although Cheesman says this plant of Rumphius is probably Musa balbisiana.
2. is from Cheesman 1949l although he says this plant of Rumphius only "may" be Musa textilis.
3. is from Hotta 1989 although Cheesman says this is probably Musa balbisiana.
4. is from Index Kewensis and Hotta.
5. is from Hotta but is species ignota according to Cheesman 1949l.
6. is inferred from Uphof.

Section Australimusa
Distribution Philippines.

Plant stooling freely ; pseudostems 2.5 - 4 metres high, 15 - 20 cm. in diameter at base, green or more or less purplish or even almost black towards the base ; leaf sheaths and petioles devoid of wax.

Leaf blades oblong, narrowing towards the apex, 1.5 - 2 metres long, 40 - 50 cm. wide, narrowly truncate at tip, rounded at base, the two sides unequal at base, midribs green like the lamina ; petioles 40 - 50 cm. long, relatively stout and stiff, holding the leaves at a high angle, their margins distinctly developed, incurved, almost covering the adaxial groove above, closely appressed to the pseudostem at base, not becoming scarious.

Inflorescence at first subhorizontal, its peduncle and rachis glabrous or minutely puberulent ; sterile bracts green, up to 50 cm. long, very acute ; basal flowers female, the number of female "hands" varying up to about 6, upper hands male.

Female flowers about 10 per bract in two rows ; ovary 5 cm. long, green, glabrous ; compound tepal 4 cm. long, 1.2 cm. wide, white with pale green lobes, the lateral lobes oblong-lanceolate, 5 mm. long, with filiform dorsal appendages also 5 mm. long, centre lobe also with a dorsal appendage but somewhat shorter ; free tepal 3.5 cm. long, 2 cm. wide, white, boat-shaped, corrugate in the upper third, with a minute apicula ; staminodes about half as long as the styles.

Male bud in advanced blooming oblong-ovoid, blunt, the bracts very strongly imbricate, the outermost being only about two-thirds the length of the bud.  Bracts greenish-brown or purplish-brown, sometimes green at their rounded tip ; outer surface quite plane, shining with a polished appearance, inner surface much paler, almost white at base.   Bracts lifting one at a time, but persisting for two or three days after the sub-tended flowers have dropped, so that there may be several open on the bud at one time ; firm in texture, scarcely revolute on fading, but first strongly reflexed and then deciduous.

Male flowers about 10 - 12 per bract in two rows ; compound tepal 3.5 cm. long, white or cream, the upper part and lobes slightly more yellow, the lobes about 3 mm., long with dorsal filiform appendage 1 mm. long, the accessory teeth nearly as long as the lobes and sometimes also appendaged ; free tepal about 2.5 cm. long, 1.5 cm. wide, translucent white, acute, scarcely apiculate ; stamens at length slightly exserted.

Fruit bunch horizontal, lax.  Individual fruit 5 - 7 cm. long (including pedicel), about 2 cm. in diameter at the middle, oblong-ovate or ellipsoidal, obsoletely angled at maturity, narrowed at base into a stout pedicel 1 - 1.5 cm. long and abruptly at apex into a broad truncate acumen about 7 mm. long ; pericarp 1 mm. thick, ripening yellow ; pulp scanty, pale buff in colour.

Seeds numerous, subglobose-turbinate, very irregular in shape, usually higher than broad, about 2 - 3 mm. across and 3 - 4 mm. high, smooth.

(Cheesman 1949 l).

References Backer & Bakhuizen 1968, Burkill 1935, Cheesman 1949l, Coode et al 1996, Cranbrook & Edwards 1994, Fawcett 1913 : 267, Flora Guandong, Griffiths 1994, GRIN, Hotta 1989 : 74, Huxley 1992, INIBAP, Lewington 1990, Mabberley 1997, Mobot Tropicos, Moore 1957 : 185, Sagot 1887 : 329, Saw & Sulaiman 1991, Stover 1972, Uphof 1968, Zeven & Zhukovsky 1975.
Comments Musa textilis was described by Cheesman from material growing outside of its natural location and none of it obtained directly from the Philippines.  Cheesman based the species on the name coined by Née who applied the name in a rather general sense to all bananas in the Philippines cultivated for fibre rather than for fruit.  There is more than one type of banana cultivated for fibre in the Philippines.  There seem to be three main types; abacá, canton and pacol.  Pacol plants are a form of Musa balbisiana.  Canton plants are a hybrid between abacá and pacol.  Both these produce inferior fibre.  The best fibre is produced by true abacá plants and it is these that comprise Musa textilis as defined by Cheesman.  There are a number of varieties of abacá of which Cheesman mentions just two, Tangonon and Libuton.   The situation in the Philippines is obviously complex and as Cheesman acknowledged "has to be analysed on the spot [ ] and cannot be discussed at a distance".  Cheesman also quoted Copeland as opining that "typical Musa textilis is now to be found in the mountains rather than in the plantations".   Despite these caveats Cheesman considered that "the name Musa textilis as generally used today outside the Philippines is attached to one particular species, quite well defined in major characters" and he went ahead and used this material to define the species.  This situation is obviously less than satisfactory and Musa textilis is surely due a review by someone with a thorough knowledge of the material in the Philippines.  Mabberley calls Musa textilis a cultigen meaning that it is a plant found only in cultivation or escaped from cultivation.  This implies that the "original" Musa textilis is lost but however ravaged the Philippines forest it may be that Copeland's mountain Musa textilis still exists.

Abacá fibres are obtained from the pseudostem and edges of the petiole.  Also known as Manila Hemp the fibres are very flexible and water resistant and thus valuable for marine cordage which remains a major use and is still competitive with synthetics.  The fibres are also used locally for textiles and for hats although these uses are now declining.  Other uses of fibre are in cigarette filters, tea bags, paper currency and sausage wrappings.  Efforts are being made in the Philippines to revive the Abacá industry.

Uphof mentions a plant called Layason which he says is Musa sylvestris and distinct from abacá .  Cheesman does not mention this species.  The fact that the fibre is sufficiently different to call it by another name does not mean it comes from a different Musa species.  Layason may simply be another variety of abacá.  Perhaps this is mentioned by E. B. Copeland in Philippine Journ. Sci. 33: 141 - 153 a publication I have not yet seen.

Musa textilis
Luis. ex F. A. W. Miquel, Flor. Ind. batavæ.

Accepted name Musa textilis L. Née , Anales Ciencias Naturales 4: 123 (1801) sensu J. G. Baker in Ann. Bot. 7: 211 (1893) excl. syn.; Kew Bulletin 1894, 290; C. A. Backer in Flora van Java 3: 134 (1924).
References Sagot 1887 : 329.
Comments I think this is Miquel or possibly Sagot being overfamiliar and using Née's given name rather than his family name to identify him..


last revision 23 April 2003