Musa troglodytarum var. typica

Musa troglodytarum var. typica L. H. MacDaniels, B. P. Bishop. Mus. Bull., 190: 56 (1947).

Accepted name none - group of cultivated Fe'i bananas
Synonyms Musa uranoscopos Rumph.
Authorities The authority for the pre-Linnean synonym is Stover & Simmonds 1987.
Section Australimusa
Distribution Tahiti
Description Inflorescence with a prolonged male axis and large imbricate, obtuse bracts on the bud
References Stover & Simmonds 1987 : 109.
Comments According to Stover & Simmonds, MacDaniels distinguished two groups of Tahitian Fe'i cultivars, namely: that having a prolonged male axis and large imbricate, obtuse bracts on the bud (Musa troglodytarum var. typica); and the group having a short (rapidly degenerating) male axis and less markedly imbricate bracts with acute tips (Musa troglodytarum var. acutaebracteata).  The former agrees in its prolonged male axis with Rumphius' drawing of the type of Musa troglodytarum.  This drawing (Musa uranoscopos Rumph.) is fig. 2 of tab. 61 in Herbarium Amboinense and is available at .

Stover & Simmonds state that there are 2 Fe'i cultivars on Tahiti corresponding to Musa troglodytarum var. typica.

Rumphius is a pre-Linnean author who gave the first detailed description of bananas in volume 5 of Herbarium Amboinense (1747) pages 125 - 140 which is available online at Botanicus at to

The section on bananas is divided into 7 headings.

Heading 1.  A history and general description of bananas.

Heading 2.  Rumphius categorises the bananas of Ambon into three main types to which he gives Latinised names viz:

1. cultivated or domesticated bananas, Musa sativa or domestica or hortensis
2. a semi-wild (or semi-domesticated) seedy banana, Musa alphurica
3. two wild bananas, Musa silvestris, of which one is seedless.

Under the general heading Musa domestica (domesticated bananas) he lists 16 types most of which he identifies only by a local name but three of which are given Latin names:

no. 1 Musa corniculata or Pissang Tando, Pissang Carbou, Pissang Ocky Ocky
no. 2 Pissang Gabba Gabba
no. 3 Pissang Crobo or Cro (further subdivided)
no. 4 Pissang Djernang
no. 5 Pissang Culit Tabal, Pissang Baratsjo
no. 6 Musa mensaria or Pissang Medji
no. 7 Musa regia or Pissang Radja
no. 8 Pissang Mera, Pissang Cutsjupau
no. 9 Pissang Salpicado
no. 10 Pissang Swangi
no. 11 Pissang Batu, Pissang Bidji
no. 12 Pissang Abu, Pissang Soldado, Pissang Alphuru
no. 13 Pissang Bombor
no. 14 Pissang Canaya Puti
no. 15 Pissang Canaya Kitsjil
no. 16 Pissang Bulang

It seems to me that Rumphius did not mean Musa domestica to define a single species but a category of bananas.

Heading 3.  The horticulture of bananas.

Heading 4.  A treatment of Musa uranoscopos, a domesticated type treated separately apparently on account of its upright inflorescence and rarity.

Heading 5.  The semi-wild (or semi-domesticated), seedy Musa alphurica or ceramica or Pissang alphuru.

Heading 6.  A wild banana Musa simiarum or Pissang Jacki (the Monkey banana) of which there are two types, small and large.

Heading 7.  The wild bananas proper, Musa silvestris or Pissang Utan.

Stover & Simmonds 1987 point out that Musa troglodytarum was applied to a group of cultivated clones grown for fruit in East Indonesia. The clones probably originated by hybridisation of a range of species possibly including Musa maclayi, Musa jackeyi, Musa angustigemma, Musa peekelii and possibly others as yet undescribed.

Stover & Simmonds 1987 caution that the Fe'i bananas are so poorly understood that the application of Latin binomials to them is "unwise".

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last updated 02/05/2008