Musa itinerans

Musa itinerans
E. E. Cheesman, Kew Bulletin 4 (1): 23 - 24 (1949).

Accepted name Musa itinerans E. E. Cheesman, Kew Bulletin 4 (1): 23 - 24 (1949).
Authorities Cheesman 1949 g.

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons lists Musa itinerans Cheesman, Kew Bull. 4: 23 (1949) as an accepted name.

Section Eumusa (Musa) 1
Distribution China (occurs up to 1,300 m), India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam.
Description Plant stooling freely and developing long rhizomes which turn up 2 metres and more away from the parent stem ; pseudostems attaining 4 m. or more in height, 20 - 25 cm. in diameter at base, green with varying development of reddish-brown or blackish pigmentation according to age and exposure ; leaf-sheaths and petioles devoid of wax.

Leaf blades up to 3 m. long, 60 cm. wide, truncate at apex, rounded at base, petioles 30 - 50 cm. long, their margins narrow, membranous and erect above, closely clasping the pseudostem at base and very early becoming scarious.

Inflorescence semi-pendulous ; peduncle velvety with a dense minute puberulence ; basal 2 - 4 (-6) "hands" female, upper hands male.

Bract subtending female flowers ovate-lanceolate, about 30 cm. long x 6 cm. broad at base, 13 cm. broad at centre, the apex of the lower bracts obtuse and very slightly foliaceous ; pale yellow and shining within, dark purple at base without, green streaked with purple towards the apex.

Female flowers in the lower bracts about 14, in two rows ; compound tepal 4 - 5 cm. long, pale yellow, its lobes up to 11 mm. long, with dorsal appendages 2 - 3 mm. ; free tepal about half as long as the compound tepal, translucent, boat-shaped, about 6 mm. deep and 5 mm. broad, rounded at the back, smooth, the apex truncate-mucronate ; staminodes 5, longer than the free tepal, about, 3 cm. long x 3.5 mm. broad, flattened, linear, white, fleshy, the apex pale yellow-orange and acute or acuminate ; style slightly shorter than the compound tepal, creamy-white, 2 - 3 mm. thick ; stigma capitate, greyish-brown, about 6 mm. broad and deep, dorsiventrally compressed ; ovary pale green, markedly 3 - 5-angled, 7 - 8 cm. long including the constricted apex (5 mm.) and whitish pedicel (about 2 cm.) into which it narrows at the base ; loculi 3, ovules about 160 per loculus, scattered rather than disposed in regular rows.

Male bud in advanced blooming rather narrowly ellipsoidal, the bracts convolute at the tip. Bracts dark reddish purple outside, commonly with a yellow margin and often variegated with, longitudinal stripes of yellow, yellow inside, paling to almost white at the base.

Male flowers 12 - 16 per bract in two rows, 6 - 8 mm. long over-all ; compound tepal whitish, its lobes about 5 mm. long ; free tepal less than half as long as the compound, boat-shaped, with a minute apicula, stamens as long as the compound tepal, at length slightly exserted.

Fruit bunch rather lax, the "fingers" spreading and not exhibiting a very strong geotropic curvature. Individual fruit about 10 cm. long, 3 cm. in diameter, oblong-turbinate or obovoid, that is, widest near the apex and narrowing gradually into a long (5 cm.) pedicel from which it is not sharply distinct, obscurely 5-angled at maturity, very abruptly narrowed at the apex to a short (5 mm.) truncate acumen ; pericarp pale whitish green on the immature fruit, yellow at full ripeness, 2 mm. thick ; pulp pale cream colour.

Seeds tuberculate, irregularly angulate-depressed, 5 - 7 mm. across and 3 mm. high.

(Cheesman 1949g).

References Cheesman 1949 g, Häkkinen et al 2008, IBPGR, Mobot Tropicos, Novak 1992, Simmonds 1956, Stover & Simmonds 1987.
Comments From Simmonds 1956:

"This may be a good place to draw attention to the fact that genetic research has shown that M. itinerans Cheesm. is closely allied to M. basjoo Sieb. from the Liukiu archipelago (Simmonds, Evolution, 8, 65 (1954). Study of the geographically intermediate forms - if any - in Indochina and southern China would be extremely interesting. I have seen a number of herbarium specimens of wild bananas from Yunnan but have unfortunately been unable to identify them with any confidence".  It is even more interesting that Musa basjoo is a Chinese plant and not from the Liukiu (Ryukyu) Islands and is sympatric with M. itinerans.  This would make any study of intermediate forms highly desirable particularly in relation varieties of M.itinerans.

Häkkinen et al 2008 have identified 6 varieties of M. itinerans.

M. itinerans var. itinerans
M. itinerans var. annamica (R. V. Valmayor, L. D. Danh & Häkkinen) Häkkinen
M. itinerans var. chinensis Häkkinen
M. itinerans var. guangdongensis Häkkinen
M. itinerans var. itinerans Cheesman
M. itinerans
var. lechangensis Häkkinen
M. itinerans var. xishuangbannaensis Häkkinen

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last updated 16/05/2008