The Musaceae

An annotated list of the species of Ensete, Musa and Musella.

Sectional arrangement of Musa

Historically the genus Musa has been divided into sections.  The sections are merely convenient divisions of the genus, they do not have any formal taxonomic significance, are not definitive, nor do they have equal rank.  They are however, useful in discussing the relationships between species.  Traditionally, Musa sections were circumscribed by chromosome number and phenotypic characters.  Recently the discovery of new species with anomalous characters and the application of genome analysis has revealed deficiencies in the traditional sections such that they may not survive much longer.  For example, there now appear to be species that "link" the sections.  Musa flaviflora in section Eumusa (Musa) 1 and Musa velutina in section Rhodochlamys appear to link these two 10-chromosome sections.  This link is exemplified by Musa ornata that seems to be a hybrid between M. flaviflora and M. velutina.  Similarly, Musa lawitiensis var. suratii has recently been interpreted as intermediate between the 11-chromosome sections Callimusa and Australimusa suggesting those sections cannot be maintained as distinct.  These examples show a blurring of the distinctness of the traditional sections.  Then again there are phenotypically similar species such as Musa paracoccinea and the un-named Chuoi Rung Hoa Sen with strange nail-headed seeds that do not neatly fit into the traditional sections. 

Studies by Carol Wong and colleagues in Singapore have revealed that genetic differences between each section in the same chromosome group are smaller than those within each section.  This means that the traditional separation of the sections can no longer be substantiated.  The studies of Wong et al do, however, maintain the separation between the 20 and 22 chromosome species.  The 2n = 14 Musa ingens remains in its own section.  The morphological differences that once supported the separation of the sections are no longer considered important in determining sectional status.  The species sorted into the sections as interpreted by Wong et al are here.

The placement of some Musa species in the sections is provisional, see notes. 

This table will need to be modified to take into account the proposed 'acuminata' and 'ornata' groups within Sect. Musa, and the 'coccinea' and 'textilis' groups within sect. Callimusa as defined by Wong et al Gardens' Bulletin (Singapore), 55 (1) : 97-111. (2003).

Genus Chromosome number
(x = 1n)
but see notes.
(genus Musa only)
see notes.
Distribution Species Main uses




Africa to Papua New Guinea. E. gilletii
E. glaucum
E. homblei
E. perrieri
E. superbum
E. ventricosum
E. wilsonii 
 [see note]
E. Banta, Thailand 
[see note]

Food staple, fibre, thatch, construction, beads, medicinal & ornamental.



Ingentimusa Papua New Guinea M. ingens   [see note] not known


Australimusa Queensland, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines. M. alinsanaya
M. beccarii
[see note]
M. boman 
[see note]
M. bukensis
M. fitzalanii
M. insularimontana
[see note]
M. jackeyi
M. johnsii
M. lawitiensis
[see note]
M. lolodensis
M. maclayi
M. monticola
[see note]
M. muluensis

M. peekelii
M. textilis

M. tuberculata
Fibre (M. textilis), fruit (fe'i bananas).


Callimusa Indo-China to Indonesia
(especially Borneo).
M. azizii
M. barioensis
M. bauensis
M. borneŽnsis
M. campestris
  [see note]
M. coccinea
[see note]
M. exotica
 [see note]
M. flavida
M. gracilis
M. hirta 
[see note]
M. lokok
[see note]
M. paracoccinea
[see note]
M. pigmaea 
[see note]
M. sakaiana

M. salaccensis
M. splendida
 [see note]
M. violascens
M. voonii



Eumusa 1
(Musa 1)

India to Samoa. M. acuminata
M. banksii 
[see note]
M. basjoo
M. flaviflora 
[see note]
M. griersonii
 [see note]
M. itinerans
 [see note]
M. ochracea
M. schizocarpa
M. siamea 
[see note]
M. thomsonii 
 [see note]
M. tonkinensis
sp. 'Burmese Blue'
  [see note]
Fruit, vegetable, wrapping,  ornamental.


Eumusa 2
(Musa 2)
India to Samoa. M. balbisiana
M. cheesmanii
M. nagensium
M. sikkimensis 
[see note]
Fruit, fibre, vegetable, wrapping, ornamental.


Rhodochlamys India to Indo-China. M. angcorensis  [see note]
M. aurantiaca
M. laterita
M. lutea
  [see note]
M. mannii

M. ornata 
[see note]
M. rosea  [see note]

M. rubra
M. sanguinea
M. velutina
  [see note]
M. v
iridis  [see note]




China (Yunnan & Guixhou) Vietnam, Laos. M. lasiocarpa
M. splendida
  [see note]

Animal fodder, vegetable, medicinal & ornamental.

Based on a Table 1.1 in Stover & Simmonds 1987 but modified substantially by information from Simmonds 1960, Hotta 1967, Argent 1976, Simmonds & Weatherup 1990, Jong & Argent 2001, Wong et al 2001.


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last updated 29/11/2007