Musa banksii

Musa banksii F. J. H. von Mueller, Fragmenta phytographić Australić, 4: 132 (1863 - 4).

Accepted name Musa banksii F. J. H. von Mueller, Fragmenta phytographić Australić, 4: 132 (1863 - 4).


Musa acuminata L. A. Colla subsp. banksii (F. J. H. von Mueller) N. W. Simmonds, Kew Bulletin 11 (3): 463 (1956).
Synonyms 1. Musa paradisiaca subsp. seminifera (J. de Loureiro) J. G. Baker
2. Musa banksii (F. J. H. von Mueller) var. muelleriana K. Domin, Bibl. Bot., 85, 1 (2): 253 (1914).
3. Musa banksii Muller (Benth. Flor. Australić)
4. Musa banksii var. samoensis Cheeseman, Kew Bull. 3: 157 (1948).
5. Musa banksiana S. Kurz,  J. Agric. Hort. Soc. Ind. Part 1. 5 (3): 164. (1877).
6. Musa charlioi W. Hill, Rep. Brisbane Bot. Gard., 7 (1874).
Authorities There is debate as to the status of this taxon. The authority for M. banksii as the accepted name is Argent 1976 and Simmonds & Weatherup 1990. The authority for Musa acuminata subsp. banksii as the accepted name is Shepherd 1990.

1 & 2 are from Simmonds 1956.
3 is from Sagot 1887 and may simply be a typographical error, i.e. Muller = Mueller.
4 & 6 are from WCM
5 is from Kurz but I think this is also simply a typographical error on p. 164 for Musa banksii mentioned on p. 162.

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons lists Musa banksii F.Muell., Fragm. 4: 132 (1864) as the accepted name and lists the following synonyms:

Musa acuminata subsp. banksii (F.Muell.) N.W.Simmonds, Kew Bull. 11: 463 (1956 publ. 1957).
Musa charlioi W.Hill, Rep. Brisbane Bot. Gard.: 7 (1874).
Musa banksiana Kurz, J. Agric. Soc. India, n.s., 5: 164 (1878), orth. var.
Musa banksii var. muelleriana Domin, Biblioth. Bot. 85: 253 (1915).
Musa banksii var. samoensis Cheeseman, Kew Bull. 3: 157 (1948).

Section Eumusa (Musa) 1
Distribution New Guinea, Queensland, Samoa & possibly the Philippines.
Description "Pseudostem up to 6 m tall, 80 cms girth at the base, usually a distinctive chocolate brown in colour but sometimes almost green. Sap watery or a dirty cream colour. Rhizomes short but the suckers arising sufficiently far from the parent to grow more or less vertically upwards. Suckering usually prolific ; the plants sometimes forming broad clumps. Shoulder brown or green, always with a broad (> 1 cm) appressed scarious margin. Petiole commonly mostly brown in colour sometimes pale green with or without a glaucous waxy bloom, the margin erect and distinctly scarious, canal large ; TS ratio 1.2. Lamina green non-waxy above, paler green and variable in waxiness below, the base left-handed cuneate ; PB ratio 4 - 5.

Peduncle usually coarsely hairy, brown or green. Bunch typically hanging approximately diagonally downwards but light bunches are sometimes almost horizontal and heavy bunches near vertical. The bunch also varies from dense to lax and sometimes exhibits irregular fruit-setting particularly in the proximal hands. Fruits usually strongly negatively geotropic and rigidly erect but sometimes more or less ageotropic and forming irregular bunches. Basal bracts long, lingulate and quickly falling. Basal flowers usually hermaphrodite although commonly with less than the full complement of fully developed stamens. The oldest one to three hands, often functionally female only. Pedicels, variable, 1 - 3 cms long. Young fruits glabrous, pale green or sometimes mottled brown after insect damage ; ovules in two rows per loculus. Mature fruit ripening yellow, often discoloured brownish by insect or other damage to the skin, indehiscent, not strongly aromatic. Seeds small, dark brown, 4 - 5 mm diameter, smooth or faintly vertically striolate, hilum small, hardly sunken but with a slightly raised collar, the umbo hardly raised.

Male peduncle very characteristically at first growing almost horizontally although becoming diagonal under the increasing weight of the developing fruit, later becoming positively geotropic and descending vertically. Male bud convolute, slender and pointed, 2 - 2.5 times as long as broad, variable in colour from pale green or yellow to deep dull red or purple often somewhat waxy. Male bract dull outside, coloured as the bud, shiny inside and pale green to pink or red, the colour always fading towards the bract insertion. Bracts lifting to a low angle and then rolling backwards and quickly falling. Male flower cream, the compound tepal c. twice as long as the free tepal. Compound tepal with bright sulphur yellow tips. Free tepal translucent white, ovate-acuminate with a distinctly wrinkled area at the base of the acumen. Chromosome number 2n = 22".

(Argent 1976).

References Argent 1976 : 87, APNI, Balick & Cox 1996 : 85-86, Champion 1967 : 39, Cheesman 1947b : 109, Cheesman 1948d, Christophersen 1935, GRIN, Hotta 1989, Jarrett 1986, Sagot 1887 : 329, Shepherd 1990, Simmonds 1956 : 463, Simmonds & Weatherup 1990, Stover & Simmonds 1987, WCM.

F. J. H. von Mueller, Fragmenta phytographić Australić, 4: 132 (1863 - 4) is at  

Comments TS ratio is the vertical depth of the petiole canal divided by the vertical depth of the petiole tissue beneath.
PB ratio is the ratio of petiole length to leaf blade length.
As applied by Argent these ratios should strictly be calculated for the fourth-last, fully expanded vegetative leaf below the inflorescence.

Simmonds 1956 treated this taxon as a subspecies of Musa acuminata but Argent 1976 considered that it is "premature to assume a cline linking M. banksii with [Malaysian] forms of M. acuminata" and gave it specific status. A numerical taxonomic study by Simmonds and Weatherup 1990 tends to support Argent's contention that M. banksii is best treated as a species. However, Shepherd (1990, p. 158) considers that Argent's separation of M. banksii was made on "quite erroneous" grounds and treats it as a subspecies of M. acuminata.

Simmonds gives the Samoan vernacular name for this plant as 'Fa'i taemanu' which he translates as 'wild banana' (fa'i = banana). A somewhat more robust translation of 'tae manu' is provided by Balick & Cox who state that the name means 'animal excrement' (bowdlerized?). Unsurprisingly in the circumstances, the Samoans' consider the seeded fruit to be a famine food only.

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last updated 21/04/2008