Musa violascens

Musa violascens H. N. Ridley, Trans. Linn. Soc. Ser. 2, 3: 384 (1893).

Accepted name Musa violascens H. N. Ridley, Trans. Linn. Soc. Ser. 2, 3: 384 (1893).
Authorities The accepted name is from Cheesman 1950 s.

The World Checklist of Monocotyledons lists Musa violascens Ridl., Trans. Linn. Soc. London, Bot. 3: 384 (1893) as an accepted name.

Section Callimusa
Distribution Malaysia.
Description Plant stooling freely. Pseudostems slender, 1 - 2 metres high, green, devoid of any perceptible wax bloom. Leaf blades up to 2 m. long or longer, 50 cm. wide, shining above, dull beneath but not glaucous ; midribs green above, like the lamina, paler beneath ; petioles 40 - 50 cm. long with scarious margins, which are very slight above but broaden below and where the petiole passes into the leaf-sheath are expanded into conspicuous corrugate auricles.

Inflorescence erect, very shortly exserted above the uppermost leaf-sheath, so that the lowermost cluster of flowers very often does not get free ; peduncle about 3 cm. thick, shortly pubescent ; first sterile bract usually with a green lamina, this followed by a sterile true bract, white outside, light violet within ; first fertile bract up to 20 cm. long, variegated white, pale violet and dark violet, the later ones gradually becoming darker, all with a green tip. Flowers of the basal bracts female, usually 4 - 8 "hands" of 8 - 10 flowers each, in two rows ; flowers of the upper bracts male.

Female flowers 8 - 9 cm. long overall ; ovary 3.5 - 4 cm. long, white, glabrous ; compound tepal 4.5 cm long, white, its tip and lobes deep yellow, lateral lobes 0.5 cm. long with a dorsal filiform appendage of 3mm. ; free tepal nearly 4 cm. long, 1.2 cm. wide, not boat-shaped or even very strongly concave, truncate at apex, not apiculate ; staminodes short, of various lengths, the longest about 1.5 cm.

Male bud in advanced blooming top-shaped, very acute, the bracts very strongly imbricate (outermost only about two thirds the length of the bud). Bracts pale violet or mauve, often splashed with white or with darker violet, green at the extreme tip ; outer surface quite plane, shining with a polished appearance, inner surface duller but similar in colour to the outside. Bracts not revolute on fading but strongly reflexed against the rachis and tending to persist in the withered condition.

Male flowers about 10 to each bract in two rows (at least in the lower and middle bracts ; sometimes fewer and uniseriate in very old buds) ; compound tepal 4 - 5 cm. long, white at base, green towards the tip, with yellow lobes, outer lobes each with a filiform dorsal appendage 0.5 cm. long ; free tepal scarcely shorter than the compound tepal, white, narrow-oblong, blunt or truncate , with only an obsolete apicula.

Fruit bunch compact. Individual fruit 4 - 7 cm. long, about 2 cm. in diameter, oblong, rather distinctly angled at maturity, narrowed or rounded into a subsessile base, usually narrowed more gradually to the apex, obsoletely or distinctly but not abruptly acuminate, the tip broadly truncate ; pericarp about 1 mm. thick, blackening at full ripeness ; pulp scanty, cream coloured.

Seeds numerous, cylindrical, 6 mm. long, 4 mm. in diameter, black, minutely tuberculate, the transverse line marking the perisperm chamber not conspicuous.

(Cheesman 1950 s).

From the photographs in Polunin (1988) and Yong (1981) the leaves of young plants have purple undersides and blotched with blackish-purple above.

References Burkill 1935, Champion 1967 : 43, Cheesman 1950 s, Hotta 1989, Polunin 1988 (illus.), Saw & Sulaiman 1991 (Musa violescens err. typogr.), Simmonds & Weatherup 1990, Yong 1981 (illus.).
Comments Musa violascens is obviously very close to M. gracilis but the latter is maintained currently as a distinct species.

There is a slightly confusing comment by Polunin that "M. gracilis is similar to M. violascens but has a spindle-shaped flowerhead with two flowers per bract". The difference is rather that M. gracilis has female flowers in one row while M. violascens has female flowers in two rows.

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last updated 02/05/2008