Musa ensete

Musa ensete J. F. Gmelin, Syst. Nat. ed. 13, 2: 567 (1791) and J. E. G. Baker, Annals of Botany 7: 205 (1893).

Accepted name Ensete ventricosum (F. M. J. Welwitsch) E. E. Cheesman, Kew Bulletin 2 (2): 101 (1947) and R. E. D. Baker & N. W. Simmonds, Kew Bulletin 8 (3): 405 (1953) with correction in Kew Bulletin 8 (4): 574 (1953).
Synonyms Ensete edule P. F. Horaninow, Prodromus Monographiae Scitaminarum : 41 (1862).
Authorities The accepted name is from Baker & Simmonds 1953 as corrected (please see link below).

The synonym is from Cheesman 1947a.

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons gives Musa ensete J.F.Gmel., Syst. Nat. 2: 567 (1791) as a synonym of Ensete edule Bruce ex Horan., Prodr. Monogr. Scitam.: 40 (1862), nom. illeg. and of Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman, Kew Bull. 2: 101 (1947 publ. 1948) which is listed as an accepted name.

Distribution "Mountains of Abyssinia, southward to hills south of the Victoria Nyanza Lake. Niam-Niam land."

(Baker 1893).

Description "Whole plant 30 - 40 ft. high. Stem ventricose at the base, non-stoloniferous. Leaves oblong, acute, bright green, reaching a length of 20ft. and a breadth of 3 ft. ; petiole short, broad, deeply channelled. Peduncle short ; flowering panicle globose ; bracts densely imbricated, ovate, 9 - 12 in. long, dark claret-brown. Flowers whitish, 1 - 2 in. long, arranged in two rows, up to 20 in a row. Ovary cylindrical, above an inch long ; calyx lingulate, 3-lobed at the apex ; petal short, tricuspidate, with a large linera central cusp. Sixth stamen rudimentary. Fruit coriaceous, dry, 2 - 3 in. long. Seeds 1 - 4, black, glossy, transversely oblong, nearly an inch broad, with a prominent raised border round the hilum."

(Baker 1893).
References Argent 1984, Baker 1893 : 205-206, Baker & Simmonds 1953 : 405, Champion 1967 : 40, Cheesman 1947 a : 100, Fawcett 1913 : 273, Griffiths 1994, GRIN, Huxley 1992, Lock 1993 : 3, RHS 1956, Sagot 1887 : 328.
Comments "For a full account" of the uses of the plant in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) Baker says "see Bruce's Travels in Abyssinia, vol. vii p. 149 (figured in his Atlas, tab. 89) ; Grant, in Trans. Linn. Soc. XXIX, 153, and Duchartre in Sagot's monograph, pp. 5-9."

Baker also mentions a couple of other African Musa in his discussion of M. ensete; "Grant's plant from Wagenda, with a stem like two great drums placed one upon another, and Heuglin's from Semen, with stolons, will likely prove distinct species." Presumably these were also Ensete ventricosum.

Cheesman gave M. ensete as a synonym of Ensete edule but noted that "It seems very probable that the combination M. ensete has been applied to more than one species of the group in cultivation as ornamental plants. I have, therefore, not listed the numerous references which can be found in De Wildeman (1912), Index Londinensis and elsewhere; each of them will need checking by the monographer of the genus." It is likely that most if not all members of this group are referable to Ensete ventricosum.


There is an external image of Musa ensete in Flore des Serres at

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last updated 30/04/2008