Musa flaviflora

Musa flaviflora N. W. Simmonds, Kew Bulletin 11 (3): 471 (1956).

Accepted name Musa flaviflora N. W. Simmonds, Kew Bulletin 11 (3): 463 - 489 (1956).
Synonyms Musa acuminata Colla, the Mariani form of Cheesman, Kew Bull. 1948, 28 (descr. & fig.); Simmonds, Journ. Genetics 51, 32 (1952).

? Musa sapientum subsp. seminifera forma thomsonii [as thomsoni] King MSS ex Baker, Ann. Bot. 7, 214 (1893); E. E. Cheesman, Kew Bull. 1948, 327

? Musa thomsonii [as thomsoni] King MSS ex Cowan and Cowan, Trees of North Bengal, 135 (1929).

Authorities The accepted name and synonymy is from Simmonds 1956 although Simmonds later considered M. flaviflora to be more likely M. acuminata subsp. flaviflora.

Noltie 1994 treats M. thomsonii as distinct.  See Musa thomsonii.

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons lists Musa flaviflora N.W.Simmonds, Kew Bull. 11: 471 (1956 publ. 1957) as an accepted name with Musa x sapientum f. thomsonii King ex Baker, Ann. Bot. (Oxford) 7: 214 (1893), (provisional synonym), Musa x paradisiaca var. thomsonii (King ex Baker) King ex K.Schum. in H.G.A.Engler (ed.), Pflanzenr., IV, 45: 21 (1900) and Musa thomsonii (King ex Baker) Cowan, Trees N. Bengal: 135 (1929) as synonyms.

Section Eumusa (Musa) 1
Distribution India (Assam, Manipur), Bhutan, (Burma?).
Description Like Musa acuminata subsp. siamea but with bright red bracts and yellow (orange yellow) male flowers.  Noltie describes the male bracts as reddish-brown outside.
References Noltie 1994, Novak 1992, Simmonds 1956, Simmonds and Weatherup 1990.
Comments An interesting banana from an area that is yet very poorly studied although much material is now entering commerce.

Simmonds (1956) says

"This species resembles Musa acuminata and on purely morphological grounds would best be treated as the northernmost subspecies of it. It differs from all known forms of acuminata in bract colour, in the male flowers suffused with orange yellow, in the virtually complete methylation of the bract anthocyanins (Simmonds, Ann. Bot. Lond. 18, 474, 1954) and, above all, in its breeding behaviour in which it shows itself to he more closely allied to some species of Rhodochlamys than to any other known Eumusa (Simmonds, J. Genet. 51, 32 (1952); Shepherd, unpublished). Its known distribution is Assam south of the Brahmaputra but it may well occur in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas and in northern Burma. The occurrence of natural hybrids of it with M. velutina Wendl. & Drude is discussed below.

Musa thomsonii is a manuscript name of King taken up by Baker and by Cowan and Cowan but inadequately described. Baker stated that the bracts have "vertical streaks of yellow and purplish brown outside which does not agree with the bright red of M. flaviflora. His publication of the name, incidentally, by Arts, 42 and 43 of the code, is probably invalid. King's plant evidently came from low altitudes in what is now the Darjeeling District of India or Sikkim and his specimens (King, Sikkim, ann. 1875-6 in Herb. Calcutta and Herb. Kew) could well belong here ; however he apparently also determined Hooker, Sikkim 2,000 ft., in Herb. Calcutta, as the same species, a collection which I believe to be more probably Musa balbisiana Colla. I did not find M. flaviflora at low altitudes in the Darjeeling District or Sikkim and I wonder whether King's " Sikkim " label may have been applied to plants from Assam. I conclude that M. thomsonii is so ill described and typified that it may well be rejected ; if it can ever be certainly identified then less confusion will result from the treatment adopted here than by taking up thomsonii for the Assam species if they are not in fact the same".

Simmonds and Weatherup's 1990 numercial taxonomic study of Musa led Simmonds to doubt whether his original placement of M. flaviflora was correct. Commenting on the relationship between various Musa acuminata subspecies Simmonds and Weatherup comment that "on every clustering method tried [] flaviflora fits very near siamea so the choice of specific rank for [flaviflora] may therefore have been ill judged []. In crossing relationships, flaviflora seems to have something in common with Rhodochlamys but, phenetically, it is merely the northernmost subspecies of the protean Musa acuminata."

Simmonds found a hybrid population between M. velutina and M. flaviflora in Assam. He did not comment on the similarity of the hybrids to M. ornata but Shepherd (1999, p. 68) considers it a "near certainty" that M. ornata is in fact "a relic of a hybrid swarm between M. flaviflora and M. velutina!" [Shepherd's emphasis].

Type: I.R. 209 in Herb. Kew.

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last updated 30/04/2008