Musa ornata cultivars

There are a number of plants grown as cut flowers and sold as ornamental flowering bananas under the name Musa ornata.

An intriguing possibility is that some of the Musa ornata types encountered today (including under the invalid name M. violacea) derive from a man-made hybrid between Musa flaviflora and Musa velutina. This cross was made in Trinidad at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture as part of a pioneering study of Musa cytogenetics. According to Simmonds 1962, "selections [of M. flaviflora x M. velutina] were so vigorous and ornamental that they were distributed to various tropical botanical gardens as being of potential horticultural interest".

There are a number of M. ornata cultivars with different inflorescence colour forms (photographs at Stokes Tropicals and in Waddick & Stokes). Some of these are cultivated in Central and South America and exploited as cut flowers.

The origin and precise genetic constitution of these M. ornata cultivars is not fully known. Some may derive from the M. flaviflora x M. velutina crosses and other hybrids released by the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture from their Musa cytogenetics programme in the 1940's and 50's (Shepherd 1999). Tim Chapman informs me that a more recent source of the M. ornata cultivars cultivated for cut flowers in Central America is David Carli's farm in Costa Rica. Carli is a plant collector and cut flower grower and a number of ornamental hybrids are said by Tim to have arisen by natural cross pollination in Carli's large collection of bananas.

The plants identified in the trade as cultivars of Musa ornata are a mixed bunch. The identity of most is not determined but those that have been identified are listed below:

'African Red' ------------------------------ not determined
'Bronze' ------------------------------------- Musa laterita
'Costa Rican Stripe' --------------------- not determined
'Lavender Beauty' ----------------------- not determined
'Leyte White' ------------------------------ Musa gracilis (perhaps not the pure sp.)
'Macro' -------------------------------------- not determined (the strongly imbricate bracts of 'Macro' are reminiscent of 'Leyte White'. M. ornata has convolute bracts.)
'Milky Way' ------------------------------- not determined
'Purple' -------------------------------------- not determined
'Red Ruby' --------------------------------- not determined
'Royal Burgundy' ------------------------ not determined
'Royal Pink' -------------------------------- not determined
'Royal Purple' ----------------------------- not determined
'Royal Red' --------------------------------- not determined
'Standard Lavender' -------------------- Musa ornata, the "normal" species

It would make an excellent student project for a formal study of such hybrids to be conducted.

home     Musa ornata          With acknowledgements to Timothy Chapman.

last updated 06/12/2007