Musa proboscidea

Musa proboscidea D. Oliver, in J. D. Hooker, Icones Plantarum 18, t. 1777 (1888).

Accepted name none - type rejected as nomen dubium.
Synonyms 1. Ensete proboscideum (D. Oliver) E. E. Cheesman, Kew Bulletin 2 (2): 102 (1947).
2. Ensete ventricosum (F. M. J. Welwitsch) E. E. Cheesman, Kew Bulletin 2 (2): 101 (1947) and see also J. M. Lock, in R. M. Polhill (ed.) Flora of Tropical East Africa, Musaceae (1993).
Authorities The source for the name being rejected is Simmonds and Baker 1953 notwithstanding Cheesman 1947 and Lock 1993.

The synonyms are from 1. Cheesman 1947 and 2. Lock 1993.

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons gives Musa proboscidea Oliv., Hooker's Icon. Pl. 18: t. 1777 (1888) as a synonym of Ensete proboscideum (Oliv.) Cheesman, Kew Bull. 2: 102 (1947 publ. 1948) itself a synonym of Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman, Kew Bull. 2: 101 (1947 publ. 1948) which is listed as an accepted name.

Distribution Tanzania (Ukami hills).

Pseudostem 4 - 5 times as high as a man, dilated at the base. Leaves narrow-oblong, very large, 3 - 4 times as long as broad, narrowed to the base. Petiole short and deeply channelled. Inflorescence finally drooping, very much elongated, nearly as long as the pseudostem. Bracts broad ovate, obtuse, about 4 times as long as the flowers, not persistent. Flowers in 2 close rows of about 12 in a row. Free petal very short, with two orbicular outer lobes and a large, linear central cusp. Seeds many, turbinate, black, glossy, in. long and broad, hilum slightly depressed.

(Oliver 1888, Baker 1893, 1894).

References Aluka, Baker 1893 : 207, Baker 1894a : 239?, Baker 1898, Baker & Simmonds 1953 : 408, Champion 1967 : 42, Cheesman 1947 : 102, De Wildeman 1912, Fawcett 1913 : 276, Lebrun & Stork 1995, Lock 1993 : 3, Mobot Tropicos, Oliver 1888, Schumann 1912.
Comments This was one of a number of African Musa transferred to Ensete by Cheesman in his 1947 paper reviving the genus Ensete. It is now recognised that there are no wild Musa native to Africa, only Ensete. Baker and Simmonds 1953 however reject the name Musa proboscidea because: "The photograph [of the type] shows a plant probably 8 - 10 ft. high (there is no scale) on which all the leaves are dead and the probably over-ripe bunch bears a very long male rachis from which all the bracts have fallen. The seed resembles that of E. gilletii but approaches E. edule in size (10 x 10 x 11 mm.). It is most probably a small-seeded form of E. edule but the inadequacy of description and typification constrain us to treat it as a nomen dubium".

Although apparently citing Baker and Simmonds 1953, Lock 1993 gives a slightly different interpretation. Having studied Kirk's type material at Kew, Lock states that "the seeds are undoubtedly those of Ensete ventricosum, although a little smaller than average" and Lock accepts Musa proboscoidea (sic) and Ensete proboscoideum (sic) as "doubtful" synonyms of Ensete ventricosum.  This seems to me insufficient to justify the conclusion of the WCM.

It should be noted that some authors including Lock and Mobot Tropicos spell the name proboscoideum (-ea) instead of proboscideum (-ea). This is a typographical error.

Holotype: Kirk s.n. (in Kew); a packet of seeds from "the hills of Ukami about 100 miles inland to the West of the Island of Zanzibar", and 3 (Baker & Simmonds) or 4 (Baker) photographs, probably of cultivated plants growing in Zanzibar by Sir John Kirk.


There is one external image of Musa proboscoidea at the Aluka website

home     next          Compiled partly with information from Gerda Rossel.

last updated 01/05/2008