Musa religiosa

Musa religiosa J. Dybowski (Dybowsky), Rev. Hort. 72: 262 (1900) and E. A. J. De Wildeman, Ann. Mus. Col. Marseille ser. 2, 10: 352 (1912).

Accepted name none - nomen nudum
Synonyms 1. Musa gilletii E. A. J. De Wildeman, Rev. Cult. Colon. 8: 102 (1901).

2. Musa chevalieri F. Gagnepain, Bull. Soc. Bot. France 55, mém. 8: 87 (1908), and A. Chevalier, Novitates Florae Africanae in Mémoires de la Société Botanique de France 8: 31 - 109 (1908).

3. Musa dybowskii E. A. J. De Wildeman, err. cal. Ann. Mus. Col. Marseille ser. 2, 7: 245 (1909).

4. Musa schweinfurthii sensu Hutchinson & Dalziel in F.W.T.A. ed. 1, 2: 328 (1936) and not of K. M. Schumann & O. Warburg ex K. M. Schumann in A. Engler's Pflanzenreich 4, 45: 14 (1900), ex Hepper in F.W.T.A. ed. 2, 3: 69 (1968).

5. Ensete religiosum (J. Dybowski) E. E. Cheesman, Kew Bulletin 2 (2): 103 (1947).

6. Ensete gilletii (E. A. J. De Wildeman) E. E. Cheesman, Kew Bulletin 2 (2): 103 (1947).
Authorities The source for the taxon being rejected as nomen nudum is Baker & Simmonds 1953.

Synonyms are from:

1, 2 & 4 Hepper 1968 where they are cited as synonyms of E. gilletii.
3 & 5 Cheesman 1947a
6 is from Huxley 1992 and Griffiths 1994.

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons gives Musa religiosa Dyb., Rev. Hort. 72: 262 (1900) as a synonym of Ensete livingstonianum (J.Kirk) Cheesman, Kew Bull. 2: 101 (1947 publ. 1948) which is listed as the accepted name. Ensete religiosum Cheesman, Kew Bull. 2: 103 (1947 publ. 1948) is listed as nom. inval.

Distribution Congo (Brazzaville)

Forming a true bulb like M. Gilletii, but differing in having roots from the whole surface of the bulb instead of from the top of the bulb only, as occurs in M. Gilletii. The seeds are of a grey colour, not black. After germination and growth for a few months all the leaves die down, and it is found that a bulb has been formed, which, after a period of rest, starts again into growth, whereas in M. Gilletii the leaves do not die down. The flowers have not been described. the fruit is full of seeds and not edible. The plant is considered a fetish by the natives of the French Congo, where it is indigenous.

(Fawcett 1913).

References Aluka, Baker & Simmonds 1953: 409, Champion 1967: 42, Cheesman 1947a: 103, De Wildeman 1901, De Wildeman 1903, De Wildeman 1912, Fawcett 1913 : 277, Griffiths 1994, Hepper 1968, Huxley 1992, Legros 1901, Lock 1993, RHS 1956.
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. However, Baker & Simmonds consider that the name must be rejected because "there is no type and the species, based on plants grown in Paris from seed collected in the French Congo, was never properly described. Letters and specimens of seed in Herb. Brux. comunicated by Dybowski to De Wildeman, however, make it clear that this is E. gilletii, over which E. religiosum would have had priority as a name if the type had been properly described". But it is not quite as simple as that because, in similar circumstances, the combination Musa elephantorum typified in 1900 would also have had a claim to priority.

Musa religiosa is not mentioned in Hepper's discussion of Ensete gilletii although the location of the type would appear to fall within the geographic range of the flora.

The inclusion of Musa religiosa as synonym of Ensete gilletii in the New RHS Dictionary of Gardening (Huxley 1992) and the Index (Griffiths 1994) is a weird carry-over of the name from the RHS Dictionary of Gardening (RHS 1956) in publications notable for their lack of continuity with the "first edition". Huxley, Griffiths and the WCM incorrectly cite the author's name as "Dyb.". "Dyb." refers to W. B. Dybowski; the correct citation for the author of Musa religiosa, J. Dybowski (or Dybowsky), is "J. Dyb.".

It is not possible to reconcile the accepted name given by the WCM with Baker & Simmonds 1953.  A note from Dybowski attached to the type makes it clear that Musa religiosa is not "unique" to the Congo.


There is one external image of the type of Musa religiosa at the Aluka website

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last updated 01/05/2008