Musa elephantorum

Musa elephantorum K. M. Schumann & O. Warburg ex K. M. Schumann, In: A. Engler et al (eds.) Das Pflanzenreich. Engelmann, Leipzig, 1900 - . 4, 45 : 14. (1912).

Accepted name none - rejected based on type being reduced to nomen dubium.
Synonyms Ensete elephantorum (K. M. Schumann & O. Warburg) E. E. Cheesman, Kew Bulletin 2 (2): 102 (1947).
Authorities The authorities for rejecting the name are Baker & Simmonds 1953 as corrected (see below) and Koechelin 1965.

However, the World Checklist of Monocotyledons gives Musa elephantorum K.Schum. & Warb. in H.G.A.Engler (ed.), Pflanzenr., IV, 45: 14 (1900) as a synonym of Ensete elephantorum (K.Schum. & Warb.) Cheesman, Kew Bull. 2: 102 (1947 publ. 1948) itself a synonym of Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman, Kew Bull. 2: 101 (1947 publ. 1948) which is listed as an accepted name.

Distribution Cameroon (Mt. Febeu, near Yaounde).
Description "Tepalum liberum integrum, apiculatum vel cuspidatum; inflorescentia erecta, semina parva subglobosa"

(Schumann 1912).

"Trunk 24 ft. long, leafy from base upwards. Leaves 7 - 9 ft. long. 2½ ft. broad. Inflorescence erect. Perianth entire, to 2 in. long ; free petal nearly ¾ in. long, apiculate or cuspidate. Seeds small, somewhat globose."

(Fawcett 1913).

References Baker & Simmonds 1953 : 409, Champion 1967: 40, Cheesman 1947a 102, Fawcett 1913: 276-277, Koechlin 1965 : 12, Schumann 1912, WCM.
Comments This was one of a number of African Musa transferred to Ensete by Cheesman in his 1947 paper reviving the genus Ensete. It is now recognised that there are no wild Musa native to Africa, only Ensete. However, Baker & Simmonds consider that the name must be rejected as nomen dubium. They point out that the determination of Musa elephantorum was based on a poor description and the type specimen in the Berlin Herbarium was destroyed in WWII preventing modern assessment.

Based on recollection of material from the type locality in Cameroon Koechlin speculates that the type might actually be attributable to E. gilletii although he too treats it as nomen dubium. "Malgré la récolte de matériel recent dans la localité-type de M. elephantorum K. Schum. et Warb., matériel qui, si l'on suit la révision de Baker et Simmonds, est tout a fait conspécifique de E. gilletii, un doute subsiste sur l'identité exacte de M. elephantorum: le type (Zenker s.n., Yaunde Station, Berg Boukollo im Grasfelde an Abhaengen, B) est detruit, et la description, très insuffisante, fait état de caractères surprenantes (inflorescence dressée). Nous considerons donc, comme Baker et Simmonds, ce nom (prioritaire sur M. gilletii, mais lui-même précéde de deux synonymes possibles, plus anciens mais également douteux), comme nomen dubium."

The information at WCM cannot be reconciled with this.

The erect inflorescence must have been due to some environmental stress, it is not a typical characteristic of any Ensete.

If the type had been properly described the combination Ensete elephantorum might have had priority over Ensete gilletii although Ensete religiosum might also have had a claim.

home     next         Compiled partly with information from Gerda Rossel

last updated 30/04/2008