Musa suratii

Musa suratii G. C. G. Argent, Gardens' Bulletin Singapore, 52 (1) : 203 (2000).

Accepted name Musa lawitiensis Nasution & Supard. var. suratii (Argent) M. Häkkinen, Adansonia, sér. 3, 28 (1): 60 (2006).
Authorities Häkkinen 2006.

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons lists Musa suratii Argent, Gard. Bull. Singapore 52: 203 (2000) as a synonym of Musa lawitiensis var. suratii (Argent) Häkkinen, Adansonia, III, 28: 60 (2006) which is listed as an accepted name.

Section Callimusa. See Comments.
Description "Clump forming herbaceous plant to c. 4 m high. Suckers emerging from below ground level on the corm, initially near vertically, up to 10 cm from the parent; suckers slightly waxy, vertical in young clumps but becoming angled outwards in the larger older clumps. Mature pseudostem up to 3.5 m high, slender to 4 cm in diameter at 30 cm above the ground, tapering gradually upwards and spreading at between 30-45º from the vertical; dark purplish black and somewhat shiny in the basal half, dull yellowish green in the upper half, swollen at junction with the corm which is c.10 cm in diameter. Inner sheath cream tinged with purple, undersheath yellow, shiny. Sap watery. Upper margin of sheath (shoulder) smooth, appressed, not scarious. Fourth last leaf: right handed to 3 cm; petiole 16-20 cm x 8 mm, dull yellowish with a pinkish edge to the margins, petiole channel closed in the proximal half, open distally, the channel small, about one quarter of the depth of the petiole; blade 120-150 x c. 20 cm; more or less narrowly elliptic, broadest about or slightly above the middle, broadly pointed but often tattered at the apex, cuneate at the base, very white waxy underneath, dull green not waxy above.

Inflorescence hanging vertically downwards, peduncle slightly waxy, glabrous, smooth. Female bud, 40 x 4 cm, orange to slightly pink, pruinose with wax outside, imbricate for nearly half the length. Bracts lifting to c. 45% straight, not curling back but somewhat channelled, bright shining orange underneath. Basal flowers mostly fully hermaphrodite, c. 9 cm long, the ovary cream, the compound tepal green, pale proximally, darker distally, the free tepal unwrinkled, or wrinkled irregularly, more or less truncate but with three short points. Stamens 5, variously ranging in size from fully developed with apparently fertile pollen to tiny staminodes. Style green, as long as the flower, stigma globose, cream. Fruit bunch hanging vertically down, fairly lax, the fruits reflexed upwards, 8-10 'hands' with the bananas in two rows with 8-10 fruits in the second 'hand'. Fruits pale whitish-green, ripening pale yellow, not splitting open, ovules in two rows per loculus. Pedicel c. 10 x 5 mm, fruit 6-9 x 0.8-1.0 cm, straight or curved, almost smoothly cylindrical hardly angled, contracted at the apex to a darker green 'beak' for 5-6 mm. Seeds dark greyish-black, slightly elongated, small c. 2.5 x 2 mm, almost smooth but with irregular very low tubercles.

Male axis vertical, glabrous, pruinose, pinkish-purple, 30-140 cm long, the scars somewhat prominent, the peduncle almost smooth and only very weakly vertically striate, the bract scars well-spaced 13-2.5 cm apart in the same rank. Male bud slender, from 15-22 x 1.8-3 cm, broadest at about one quarter of its length from the base, imbricate for between one third to one half of its length, bright orange except for the tips of the bracts which are green. Male bracts lifting to 45º straight, not curling back but the margins slightly inrolled longitudinally; slightly pruinose-waxy, orange with green tips outside, bright, somewhat shiny not waxy orange inside. Male flowers 30-45 mm. long, creamy at the base, green in the distal half, compound tepal with the three major lobes up to 4 mm acutely pointed and irregularly fimbriate with long hairs to c. 1 mm long, the two minor lobes free for c. 1 mm and minutely mucronate, free tepal c. 4 mm shorter than the compound tepal, translucent white, irregularly three-pointed the lateral points broad the central point smaller, firmer, greenish-yellow. Stamens 5, creamy white, the anther over half the length of the stamen. Style slender, the length of the flower, broadened slightly towards the stigma."

(Argent 2000).

References Argent 2000, Häkkinen 2006 : 60, Wong et al 2001, Wong et al 2002
Comments Type: Sabah: Kallang, Tenom District Andy Surat & A. Lamb 268189, 8 Sept. 1989 (holo SAN; iso E). Additional specimen: Sarawak: River Delok, Lubok Antu District Christensen 1066 (AAU, E, SAR).

Musa lawitiensis is a very odd-looking Musa as can be seen from the images accessible below. Based on a combination of genetic analysis and phenotypic considerations Wong et al 2001 found that M. lawitiensis var. suratii fell between sections Australimusa and Callimusa suggesting that the two could no longer be maintained as distinct. In a later paper Wong et al 2002 formally proposed the absorption of the Australimusa into the Callimusa thus removing any difficulty in the sectional placement.


There are external images of Musa lawitiensis var. suratii in Häkkinen (2006) available at

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last updated 02/05/2008