Musa charlioi

Musa charlioi
W. Hill, Rep. Brisbane Bot. Gard., 7 (1874).

Accepted name none - nomen dubium et nudum.
Authorities The authority for the name being rejected is Simmonds 1956 & APNI.

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons lists Musa charlioi W.Hill, Rep. Brisbane Bot. Gard.: 7 (1874) as a synonym of Musa banksii F.Muell., Fragm. 4: 132 (1864) which is listed as an accepted name.

Distribution Australia
References APNI, Champion 1967 : 39, Kurz 1877 : 131 & 163, Ross in George (ed) (1987) : 19, Simmonds 1956 : 476

This transcript of Hill's description (Rep. Brisbane Bot. Gdn. 1874, 7) is from Simmonds 1956:

Musa charlioi W. H. - Herbaceous, stem dingy green, simple, thirty to forty feet long, thickly clothed with sheathing petioles of the leaves; leaves oblong five to six feet long, forming a tuft on the apex of the stem, spadix nodding, fruit obliquely elliptical, oblong, three to four inches long, fleshy, with numerous small hard dry seeds.

Hab. - In rich alluvial soil on the banks of the Johnstone River.

A new variety of what is popularly termed wild banana, called after one of the troopers of the Native Police who was found very useful upon the expedition.

It is a shame that a banana species named for an aboriginal Australian called Charlie in 1874 should ignominiously be reduced to nomen dubium et nudum. In 1877 Sulpiz Kurz wrote that "Australia does not yet cultivate the banana, and hence we are spared the doubtful pleasure of learning amusing names of aborigines or colonists from this quarter of the globe". Kurz either did not know or was being sarcastic when he cited Walter Hill as adding "two Australian bananas, viz., Musa Jackeyi and M. Charlioi"; he was indeed learning the nicknames of two Australian aborigines.

Another amusing slant on this species is provided by Simmonds who obviously thought that Hill was hallucinating:

There are obvious inaccuracies in this description (a stem thirty or forty feet tall that bore leaves five to six feet long would be an extraordinary banana indeed) and not one useful diagnostic character is given; there are no collections in Herb. Brisbane and it is virtually certain that none exists. The name may well be rejected; the plant was presumably either Musa acuminata subsp. banksii or Musa fitzalani.

Not long after writing this Simmonds found an even more "extraordinary banana", Musa ingens, with pseudostems 10 - 15 m. tall and 2 m. in girth at the base and leaves 5 m. long by 1 m. wide on petioles 60 cm. long.

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last updated 30/04/2008