Musa basjoo

Musa basjoo P. F. (B.) von Siebold, Synopsis Plantarum Oeconomicarum universi regni Japonici, in Verhandelingen van het Bataviaasch Genootschap, 12de Deel: 18 (1830).
Musa basjoo P. F. (B.) von Siebold & J. G. Zuccarini, Synopsis Plantarum Oeconomicarum universi regni Japonici, in Verhandelingen van het Bataviaasch Genootschap, 12de Deel: 18 (1830).
Musa basjoo P. F. (B.) von Siebold & J. G. Zuccarini ex Y. Iinuma, Sintei Somoku dzusetsu [Illustrations and Descriptions of Plants] ed. 2, 3: pl. 1 (1874).
Musa basjoo J. G. Baker, Curtis's Botanical Magazine t. 7182 (1891).

Accepted name Musa basjoo P. F. (B.) von Siebold ex Y. Iinuma, Sintei Somoku dzusetsu [Illustrations and Descriptions of Plants] ed. 2, 3: pl. 1 (1874) et J. G. Baker Curtis's Botanical Magazine t. 7182 (1891).
Synonyms 1. Musa japonica Hort. Veitch ex E. A. Carrière & E-F. André, Rev. Hort. [Paris] 61: 491 (1889).
2. [Musa martinii A. Van Geert, Revue de Horticulture Belge et Étrangere 18: 107, fig. 12 (1892).]
3. Musa japonica Hortus Vietchii : 275 (1906).
4. Musa dechangensis J. L. Liu & M. G. Liu, Acta Botanica Yunnanica 9 (2) : 163 (1987).
5. Musa lushanensis J. L. Liu, Acta Botanica Yunnanica 11 (2) : 171 (1989).
6. Musa luteola J. L. Liu, Investigatio et Studium Naturae 10 : 41, f. 1 (1990).
Authorities The accepted name here is from Turner et al 2002 and derived as follows: von Siebold published Musa basjoo nomen nudum.  When in the second edition of Iinuma's work (1874) his illustration was annotated “Basho. Musa basjoo S et Z. (Musaceae)” this constituted valid publication.  However, Baker (1891) gave the first "proper" illustration and description.  Zuccarini had nothing to do with the publication of Musa basjoo although following Iinuma he is frequently credited as co-author with von Siebold.

The source of the synonymy is as follows:

1. Cheesman 1948e.
2. This is a spurious synonym - follow the M. martinii link for an explanation.
3. Cheesman 1948e.
4 - 6. Liu et al 2000

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons lists Musa basjoo Siebold, Verh. Batav. Genootsch. Kunsten 12: 18 (1830) as an accepted name.

Section Eumusa (Musa) 1
Distribution China (Fujian, Gansu, Guandong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan and Zhejiang), Japan - introduced.

Please note that Musa basjoo is not a Japanese plant it is Chinese.  The World Checklist of Monocotyledons accepts this and gives its distribution as S. China.


"Plant stooling rather sparsely ; pseudostems about [2.5 m.] high, green or yellowish green as far as visible, but usually hidden in the lower part by persistent withered leaf bases ; upper parts of leaf-sheaths lightly black- blotched, scarcely perceptibly waxy. Leaf blades, about [1.5 m.] long, 55 cm. wide, medium green above, paler beneath but scarcely glaucous ; midribs pale green above and beneath ; petioles about 30 cm. long, with prominent margins, widening from 0.5 cm. at the top to 1.5 cm. at base, spreading throughout the length and not clasping the pseudostem at base.

Inflorescence at first horizontal, the bud turning down immediately after the change of sex ; peduncle very minutely puberulent ; sterile bracts commonly 3, the first leaf-like with considerable development of lamina, the next tipped with lamina, the last completely bractlike but green ; basal flowers female, the number of female " hands " varying up to about 6, upper flowers male.

Female flowers 10 - 16 per bract in two rows ; ovary 4 - 5 cm. long, bright green, glabrous ; compound tepal 4 - 4.5 cm. long, white, its tip and lobes deep yellow, the lateral lobes 5 mm. long, with a minute dorsal appendage or none ; free tepal 4 cm. long, boat-shaped in the lower half only, the upper half ligulate corrugate narrowing gradually to an acute apex terminated by an apicula 7 mm. long staminodes 5, all as long as the perianth, exceeding the style and stigma ; style stout, stigma 7 mm. across.

Male bud in advanced blooming very broadly ovoid, obtuse, the bracts imbricate at the tip. Bracts yellowish-green outside, sometimes with a brownish tinge, dull but scarcely glaucous, sulcate, pale yellow within and transversely corrugate between the ridges ; broadly ovate, nearly as broad as long if flattened out, rounded at apex. Two or more bracts lifted at the same time, soon deciduous after flowering.

Male flowers about 20 per bract, in two rows ; compound tepal about 5 cm. long, 1.2 cm. wide, cream with yellow tip and lobes, the outer lobes narrow oblong, 5 mm. long, with a spine-like dorsal appendage barely exceeding 1 mm. ; free tepal lanceolate, long-acuminate, nearly 4 cm. long altogether, boat-shaped in the lower 2.5 cm., the upper 1.5 cm. narrowing gradually to an extremely fine point, this upper part becoming corrugated and revolute as the flowers age ; stamens at first slightly shorter than the style and perianth, later well exserted and revolute.

Fruit bunch compact, nearly horizontal, its peduncle pubescent ; individual fruits 5 - 7 cm. long, 2 - 3 cm. in diameter, 3 - 5 angled, tapering to the base into a short (0.5 cm.) pedicel, at apex rounded obtuse with a short conspicuously angled stylar callosity. Pericarp about 2 mm. thick, greenish yellow at full ripeness ; pulp white.

Seeds black, warty, irregularly angulate, dorsiventrally compressed, 6 - 8 mm. across and 4 mm. high".

(Cheesman 1948e).

References Argent 1984, Baker 1891, Baker 1893 : 210, Champion 1967 : 39, Cheesman 1948e, Fawcett 1913 : 267, Gérome 1912, Griffiths 1994, GRIN, Häkkinen & Väre 2008, Hotta 1989, Huxley 1992, IPGRI, Kurz 1865, Kurz 1877 : 131, Liu et al 2000, Makino 1979, Mobot FoC, Moore 1957 : 179, Novak 1992, RHS 1956, Simmonds & Weatherup 1990, Turner at al 2002, WCM.

J. G. Baker, Curtis's Botanical Magazine
v.117 Ser.3 no.47 t. 7182 (1891) is at et seq.
Comments J. G. Zuccarini is frequently cited as co-author with von Siebold of the original publication of the name Musa basjoo but this is a mistake. Von Siebold's Synopsis was published in Batavia while he was en route to Holland having been expelled from Japan. This was before von Siebold started his collaboration with Zuccarini on Flora Japonica.

Musa basjoo is commonly referred to as the Japanese Fibre Banana and it's native place is given as the Ryukyu (Liu Kiu) Islands. However, Musa basjoo is not the Japanese Fibre Banana. Musa basjoo is not from the Liu Kiu Islands and not from Japan, it is a Chinese species. The Japanese Fibre Banana is a form of Musa balbisiana, another introduced species.  There are no Musa native to Japan. More about this in Constantine 2008 and here.

Musa basjoo is the most cold hardy Musa currently known. The rootstock, protected with a deep mulch, will withstand heavy frosts although the pseudostem may be killed. It is possible to protect the pseudostem from less severe frost e.g. with layers of horticultural fleece or sacking or straw combined with a basal mulch. The foliage will tolerate briefly only a degree or so of air frost. The various forms of Musa basjoo offered commercially are discussed here.

Häkkinen & Väre 2008 give the orthography, publication and typification as "Musa basjoo Inuma Sintei Somoku Dzusestsu [Illustrated Flora of Japan], ed. 2: 3 (1874). — Type: Inuma, Sintei Somoku Dzusestsu [Illustrated Flora of Japan], ed. 2, pl. 1 (1874) (lecto-, here designated)."  Apart from mis-spelling Iinuma's name, this credits him alone with the name.  Since Iinuma himself cites Sieb. & Zucc. (Zuccarini in fact had nothing to do with it) surely this should be Musa basjoo Sieb. ex Iinuma?


There are five images of Musa basjoo.
Baker's illustration is at   

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last updated 22/10/2008