Musa ceramica

Musa ceramica
G. E. Rumphius, Herbarium Amboinense 5: 138 (1750).

Accepted name not determined, a seedy banana of Ambon - see M. alphurica.
Synonyms 1. Musa alphurica G. E. Rumphius, Herbarium Amboinense 5: 130 & 138 (1750).
2. Musa x berteri L. A. Colla Gen. Musa, 57 (1820)
3. Musa x sapientum L. Syst. Nat. ed. 10: 1303 (1759).
Authorities The synonyms are from:

1 & 2. Kurz 1877.
3. Index Kewensis (via M. berteri L. A. Colla)
References Champion 1967, Kurz 1877 : 138
Comments Rumphius is a pre-Linnean author who gave the first detailed description of bananas in volume 5 of Herbarium Amboinense (1747) pages 125 - 140 which is available online at Botanicus at to

The section on bananas is divided into 7 headings.

Heading 1.  A history and general description of bananas.

Heading 2.  Rumphius categorises the bananas of Ambon into three main types to which he gives Latinised names viz:

1. cultivated or domesticated bananas, Musa sativa or domestica or hortensis
2. a semi-wild (or semi-domesticated) seedy banana, Musa alphurica
3. two wild bananas, Musa silvestris, of which one is seedless.

Under the general heading Musa domestica (domesticated bananas) he lists 16 types most of which he identifies only by a local name but three of which are given Latin names:

no. 1 Musa corniculata or Pissang Tando, Pissang Carbou, Pissang Ocky Ocky
no. 2 Pissang Gabba Gabba
no. 3 Pissang Crobo or Cro (further subdivided)
no. 4 Pissang Djernang
no. 5 Pissang Culit Tabal, Pissang Baratsjo
no. 6 Musa mensaria or Pissang Medji
no. 7 Musa regia or Pissang Radja
no. 8 Pissang Mera, Pissang Cutsjupau
no. 9 Pissang Salpicado
no. 10 Pissang Swangi
no. 11 Pissang Batu, Pissang Bidji
no. 12 Pissang Abu, Pissang Soldado, Pissang Alphuru
no. 13 Pissang Bombor
no. 14 Pissang Canaya Puti
no. 15 Pissang Canaya Kitsjil
no. 16 Pissang Bulang

It seems to me that Rumphius did not mean Musa domestica to define a single species but a category of bananas.

Heading 3.  The horticulture of bananas.

Heading 4.  A treatment of Musa uranoscopos, a domesticated type treated separately apparently on account of its upright inflorescence and rarity.

Heading 5.  The semi-wild (or semi-domesticated), seedy Musa alphurica or ceramica or Pissang alphuru.

Heading 6.  A wild banana Musa simiarum or Pissang Jacki (the Monkey banana) of which there are two types, small and large.

Heading 7.  The wild bananas proper, Musa silvestris or Pissang Utan.

This is what Sulpiz Kurz had to say:

"Pisang alphuru (Musa Alphurica, s. Ceramica of Rumph,) also called pisang ceram (kula hatuan of Hitoe.) Similar to the common banana-tree, but the fruit-racemes are somewhat peculiar on account of bearing leaves on the peduncle, two of which are at the base and similar to those of the stem but shorter and rounder, then follow the other leaves which are small and narrow, and from each if them arises a thick green stalk on which grow a few fruits of which, however, only a few come to perfection. These resemble in shape those of pisang batu or pisang swangi, but become sometimes a span long and as thick as a bone. The pulp is whitish, of a more sourish taste than pisang medji, and more smeary. The skin is thick, pale yellow and usually rupturing. The rachis of the the raceme is angular or striped, the fruit-whorls somewhat remote. The raceme does not end in a djantong [male bud],* and in this regard resembles pisang tandue or pisang karbouw. It bears many black seeds like pisang batu, and usually two or more neighbouring fruits consolidate into one.

* But strange to say, Rumph distinctly figures not only a terminal djantong but very distinctly gives also the imbrication of its bracts. Colla, who rechristens this banana Musa Berterii, simply copies Rumph without noticing this and other serious discrepancies between the figure and the description."

(Kurz 1877)

home     next

last updated 30/04/2008