Musa ingens

Musa ingens N. W. Simmonds, Kew Bulletin 14 (2): 198 (1960).

Accepted name Musa ingens N. W. Simmonds, Kew Bulletin 14 (2): 198 (1960).
Authorities Simmonds 1960.

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons lists Musa ingens N.W.Simmonds, Kew Bull. 14: 198 (1960) as an accepted name.

Section Ingentimusa
Distribution Papua New Guinea, 1350 to 1800m.
Description The full description from Simmonds 1960 is as follows:

Plants huge, the pseudostems 10-15 m. tall and 2 m. in girth at the base, sparsely suckering; juice watery; sheaths waxy below, tinged reddish brown above; petioles up to 60 cm. long, deeply channelled above with erect and slightly scarious margins; leaves up to 5 x 1 m.; inflorescence huge, pendulous borne on a massive glabrous peduncle 10 cm. in diameter; basal hands very numerous (ca. 20), each bearing 16-25 hermaphrodite flowers; hermaphrodite flowers, the ovary 5-6 x 1-2-1.4 cm., angular, slightly tapered above and below, trilocular with biseriate ovules, the compound tepal 4.5 cm. long, thickened at the back angles, and surmounted by 5 deep (2 cm.) lobes, the outermost pair of major lobes bearing awn-like processes 7 mm. long, the inner lobes shortly (2 mm.) apiculate, the free tepal about 3 cm. long, oblong, raggedly obtuse-mucronate at the apex, hardly tapered towards the base, somewhat thickened at the back and transversely wrinkled-corrugated in the upper two thirds of its length, the style massive, about 4 mm. thick surmounted by an irregularly shaped but not greatly swollen stigma, the stamens 5, somewhat shorter than the stigma; bracts of the basal hands deciduous, oblong, subobtuse, ca. 34 x 18 cm., somewhat fleshy-leathery, and apparently not so brittle as the male bracts; male axis massive, ca. 1 m. long at time of bunch maturity, with very prominent bract insertion scars; male bud massive, oblong to subglobose, the component bracts loosely packed and not imbricate at the tip; male bracts deciduous, very broadly ovate 21 x 17 cm., rounded at the apex, shallowly dish-shaped and slightly hooded at the tip, thin, leathery-brittle (not toughly fibrous) in texture, dull greyish-purple and shiny without, pale in colour within; male flowers 20-25 per bract, biseriate, each 7 cm. x 5-6 mm. overall, the abortive ovary 8 mm. long, the compound tepal 6 cm. long, strongly thickened along the two angles, deeply (4 mm.) 5 (i.e. 3 + 2)-toothed and tinged with orange-yellow at the apex, the free tepal 3 cm. long, oblanceolate, rounded and ragged-mucronate at the apex, tapered and slightly thickened at the back towards the base, the stamens 5, with anther 2.5 cm. long and filament 2 cm. long, elongating at anthesis; fruit-bunch massive, about 20 hands of 16-25 fruits each, very compact, estimated to weigh about 60 kg.; mature fruits massive, ca. 18 x 3-4 cm., largest towards the base of the bunch, tapering below into the short (2 cm.) pedicel, rounded or shortly and bluntly acuminate at the apex, devoid of floral remnants, lightly angled and somewhat flattened on the faces opposed to neighbours in development, pale in colour; seeds smoothly angular in outline, very variable in shape as a result of compression between neighbours, dark brown to black, ca. 7 mm. in mean diameter (4-10 mm.) with a deep (2 mm.) hilar cavity but lacking an umbo opposite the hilum; somatic chromosome number 2n = 14.

References Argent 1976, Jong & Argent 2001 : 186, Simmonds 1960, Mabberley 1997, Simmonds & Weatherup 1990, Stover & Simmonds 1987.
Comments This is the largest and tallest of the bananas and the largest non-woody plant in the world.

Simmonds notes that, like other montane species, it does not thrive in tropical Trinidad. Although tropical highlands are rather specialised habitats the poor growth of the plant in the lowland tropics suggests that it might grow in more temperate climes.

Placed in the newly created section Ingentimusa by Argent 1967 Musa ingens was transferred to section Eumusa (Musa) 2 by Simmonds & Weatherup 1990 despite its anomalous chromosome number. Following Jong & Argent 2001 the plant is returned to the Ingentimusa.

Information on the bananas of Papua New Guinea is at

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last updated 01/05/2008