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Species Bananas Discussions of all the different wild species of banana (non edible), an aspect of the hobby that deserves its own section.


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Old 01-29-2008, 10:23 PM   1 links from elsewhere to this Post. Click to view. #1 (permalink)
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Default Musa yunnanensis officially described!

I was looking through the quarterly journal Novon, published by Missouri Botanical Garden, in last year's December issue today (next one comes out in March, etc.). I found an article in there that describes Musa yunnanensis and Musa acuminata var. chinensis. Both are found in the Yunnan province. It states:

"Musa yunnanensis grows abundantly in the Mekong River watersheds on slopes from 500-1800 m. The plants can tolerate seasonal frosts, which occur from Jan. to Feb. at higher elevations in Yunnan, China...
...seeds germinate easily even in shaded environments. However, these young plants then remain dormant for years. When exposed to light, the young plants thrive."

OK, I thought the fact that the young plants stay dormant for years after germination was very interesting! The plants do tolerate shade, and in fact the plant is called the "tree banana" by locals because it grows under forest canopy. However, it doesn't really start to grow until exposed to some good light. It is also "cultivated up to 2100 m, and the stems used as animal fodder."

Another interesting note:

"The first author tentatively used the name Musa yunnanensis without describing it a few years ago (Hakkinen, unpublished data) when seeds came to commercial markets in Yunnan."

That is interesting to me because I have been maintaining for some time now that the seeds and plants first offered to us as Musa itinerans are in fact Musa yunnanensis.

Now, onto some key descriptors!

"Plant normal, suckering freely, close to parent plant...mature pseudostem up to 5m...underlying color light green with purple-black blotches, waxy, sap watery...petiole to 70 cm, waxy, petiole margins curved inward with purple-black sparse blotching, petiole bases winged and clasping pseudostem, very waxy; leaf habit...narrowly elliptic, truncate at apex...leaf bases symmetric, both sides rounded and auriculate (having auricles, ears, or earlike parts, as the base of a leaf). ...Inflorescence at first horizontal and then falling vertically downward. ...Basal flowers hermaphrodite...Male bud lanceolate, ca. 12 X 4 cm, bracts red-purple externally, cream internally, with some wax outside, with pointed yellowish apex, lifting several bracts bracts at a time, revolute before falling, the whole bud aborting before fruits mature. ...Fruit bunch lax, with 8 hands and 15 fruits per hand on average, in 2 rows, fingers curved toward the stalk, individual fruit ca. 8 cm, curved with a pronounces ridge, pedicel ca. 22 mm, glabrous, fruit apex rounded, without relictual floral remains, immature peel color green, becoming light yellowish green with black blotches and splitting lengthwise at maturity....."

That's the cliff notes version. So, let's compare some of these descriptors with my alleged Musa yunnanensis:

"underlying color light green with purple-black blotches"


"petiole margins curved inward with purple-black sparse blotching, petiole bases winged and clasping pseudostem, very waxy"


"leaf habit...narrowly elliptic, truncate at apex"


"leaf bases symmetric, both sides rounded and auriculate (having auricles, ears, or earlike parts, as the base of a leaf)." I had a hard time finding a picture of a darn leaf base, so it'll have to wait. But to sort of show what they look like, this Musa thomsonii leaf base is very similar (look at the biggest leaf on the right):



As far as inflorescences, Eric in Orlando has pictures of them, and they and the fruit match the description perfectly. In my mind now, there is almost no doubt that this banana is Musa yunnanensis. Furthermore, it is a very cold-hardy banana! Mine comes back in March, for crying out loud, in zone 7a. Obviously, it is not Musa itinerans, so I'm not going to call it that anymore. It fits the description for Musa yunnanensis to a "T." Does anybody think otherwise?

Gabe, inkcube, anybody else...I'd like to hear people weigh in on this with their opinions. I sure would like to positively ID this banana once and for all! Thanks,

Frank
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Old 01-29-2008, 10:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

Looks like a match Frank!
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

So is this the banana that was first introduced about 10 years ago (our seeds came from rarepalmseeds.com) as Musa "Yunnan" then thought to be M. itinerans actually M. yunnanensis? These are the ones that sucker close together, not like the M. itinerans var. xishuangbannaensis which produces suckers up to several feet away

These are some photos of Musa itinerans (Musa "Yunnan")








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Old 01-30-2008, 09:45 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

Thanks for those pics, Eric! That's the plant. Do you guys subscribe to Novon at Leu? You should go find a university library, or a library down there that has it, and key it out. I'm almost 100% positive that the banana in the pictures is Musa yunnanensis. Let me ask you this: Do the plants in your pictures form seeds, even without another bloom open? Musa yunnanensis has basal hermaphroditic flowers, so it would form seeds with just one inflorescence open.

I'll say this about the banana in your (and my) pics: It is definitely NOT Musa itinerans! The easiest distinguishing characteristic about itinerans is the long rhizomes.
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:13 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

We don't have a subscription, I will have to check into it.

Yes, these seed and quite often we get clups of seedlings coming up throughout the Gardens (50 acres). I think racoons spread them. The last photo is a clump that sprouted up from seedlings and only took a couple years to get that big.

When these were first ID'd as M. itinerans I always wondered as they did not have stolons or produce suckers aways from the parents like the descriptions said.
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Old 01-30-2008, 12:14 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

So this means that the one from agri starts(M.initerans) is actually M. yunnanensis...right?
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Old 01-30-2008, 12:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

Eric,

Hey! I see that you work at Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando. I'm assuming that you are the Eric who wrote the recent article "Go Bananas" in the publication Ornamental Outlook? That was a great article and a good way to introduce more people to the ornamental bananas out there. I think it is mostly people in the horticulture/grounds maintenance industry that read it though. I've read some of your articles before but never realized exactly who it was writing them until now.

I'll have to look into this Novon publication. I worked at the Missouri Botanical Garden for over 5 years and I don't remember ever even hearing of it. I assume that it is put out by their Research division and I was in Horticulture, so maybe that's why.

Does the yunannensis produce edible fruit? Looks like a cool banana for sure!
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Old 01-30-2008, 01:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

That is me! I write a monthly article on some type of group of plants. This time it was ornamental flowering bananas. Glad you enjoyed the article, OO is more of a trade magazine but always has some good articles.

I don't know how the fruits are. They're not real big and lots of seeds. One of those that you could crack a tooth or filling if you weren't careful.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bananaman88 View Post
Eric,

Hey! I see that you work at Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando. I'm assuming that you are the Eric who wrote the recent article "Go Bananas" in the publication Ornamental Outlook? That was a great article and a good way to introduce more people to the ornamental bananas out there. I think it is mostly people in the horticulture/grounds maintenance industry that read it though. I've read some of your articles before but never realized exactly who it was writing them until now.

I'll have to look into this Novon publication. I worked at the Missouri Botanical Garden for over 5 years and I don't remember ever even hearing of it. I assume that it is put out by their Research division and I was in Horticulture, so maybe that's why.

Does the yunannensis produce edible fruit? Looks like a cool banana for sure!
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Old 01-30-2008, 01:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

If you search yunnanensis in the gallery there are pictures of the one I imported from Nature Products (Tian Zi), so you can use that as reference too.
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Old 01-30-2008, 01:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

I actually grew a bunch of these for a chimpanzee sanctuary in Ft. Pierce. Save the Chimps ( savethechimps.org ) has acquired an old Air Force facility in New Mexico that housed a few hundred chimps, some dating back to the early space days. They were used in space travel research or loaned out for medical research. They have 100 acres now west of Ft. Pierce and are bringing them to FL. They live in groups on islands where they are free to go outside.

Their website said they could use donations of banana plants. I asked if they were for fruit but they said no, mainly for browse. The chimps love to eat the leaves or play with them and make nests. This banana seems to be a more tolerant banana here to drier soil and nematodes. They also seemed to form a thick clump faster with lots of foliage so I collected a bunch of the seedlings I found growing wild and potted them up. Once they grew a little I took them over.
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Old 01-30-2008, 03:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric-Orlando,FL View Post
I actually grew a bunch of these for a chimpanzee sanctuary in Ft. Pierce. Save the Chimps ( savethechimps.org ) has acquired an old Air Force facility in New Mexico that housed a few hundred chimps, some dating back to the early space days. They were used in space travel research or loaned out for medical research. They have 100 acres now west of Ft. Pierce and are bringing them to FL. They live in groups on islands where they are free to go outside.

Their website said they could use donations of banana plants. I asked if they were for fruit but they said no, mainly for browse. The chimps love to eat the leaves or play with them and make nests. This banana seems to be a more tolerant banana here to drier soil and nematodes. They also seemed to form a thick clump faster with lots of foliage so I collected a bunch of the seedlings I found growing wild and potted them up. Once they grew a little I took them over.

Eric,
That is one of the coolest projects I have heard of... Seems like I read something about the chimps awhile back... So, you are saying that they moved them from NM to FL? Man, I think what you did was awesome. Good luck with your future endeavors with this project...
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Old 01-30-2008, 03:53 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tropicallvr View Post
So this means that the one from agri starts(M.initerans) is actually M. yunnanensis...right?
Kyle, I believe that to be the case. I can't factually confirm that though. Maybe if a botanist would examine the clumps at Leu Gardens, key in hand, then we would know for sure. I will say that so far, I can't find any part of the official description that does not match the plants in question (but I've never had one flower in my climate, so I can't examine the inflorescence and fruit closely). I want some expert botanists to examine plants in cultivation, so we can get names correct before the real Musa itinerans starts becoming widely available (which I don't think will be very long).

The article mentions that monkeys and bats are primarily responsible for seed dispersal. It says that seeds are "nearly flat, wrinkled, ca. 3.5 mm diam., 80-100 seeds per fruit." It also mentions that M. yunnanensis is affined to a M. acuminata group.

Another interesting part of the article describes several species found in the Yunnan province in areas where seasonal frosts occur:" Ensete glaucum (Roxburgh) Cheesman, Musa acuminata Colla, M. balbisiana Colla, M. basjoo Siebolt, and M. itinerans Cheesman, as well as other misidentified banana species."

I'd be curious as to which M. acuminata variety is cold-hardy.

Novon is published by The Missouri Botanical Garden Press, and is a journal for botanical nomenclature. It's pretty much dedicated solely to describing new species, renaming, or reclassifying known species. It's only been around since 1991. For citation purposes, this volume is Volume 17, no. 4, pp. 440-446. I know that the Musa itinerans is supposed to cleared up in an upcoming issue of Novon, so I've been keeping my eyes peeled for it!
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Old 01-30-2008, 04:08 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabe15 View Post
If you search yunnanensis in the gallery there are pictures of the one I imported from Nature Products (Tian Zi), so you can use that as reference too.
Gabe, I just looked at the plant(s) in your gallery. Is that the same plant?? It's got some size to it now if it is! I've seen the pictures of the smaller plant before. I have one about that size at the greenhouse, and it has the same blackish coloration at the midrib on top of the leaf. The thing that bothers me is the leaf bases on yours! They are symmetric it appears, but they are not rounded at the base. They have more of a Musa basjoo type leaf base. What do you make of that? The description states that the leaf bases are rounded and auriculate. Could TianZi have sent you a different banana, not yet described?
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Old 01-30-2008, 05:47 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

They have 286 chimpanzees. They have moved 134 to FL and have 152 left in NM that they hope to move here in the next 2 years. Its a great organization



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Eric,
That is one of the coolest projects I have heard of... Seems like I read something about the chimps awhile back... So, you are saying that they moved them from NM to FL? Man, I think what you did was awesome. Good luck with your future endeavors with this project...
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:05 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdog View Post
Gabe, I just looked at the plant(s) in your gallery. Is that the same plant?? It's got some size to it now if it is! I've seen the pictures of the smaller plant before. I have one about that size at the greenhouse, and it has the same blackish coloration at the midrib on top of the leaf. The thing that bothers me is the leaf bases on yours! They are symmetric it appears, but they are not rounded at the base. They have more of a Musa basjoo type leaf base. What do you make of that? The description states that the leaf bases are rounded and auriculate. Could TianZi have sent you a different banana, not yet described?
It's the same one, but even those pictures were ages ago, the plant is probably close to maturity by now, its been living in South Florida since last summer. It should be acurrate, Markku Hakkinen (the one who described it) has worked closely with Tian Zi and verified what plants they had. There are also different varieties of M. yunnanensis that will be published later on, so perhaps we are seeing some of the different varieties or maybe just a juvenile trait. Unfortunatly my computer is down so I don't have any of the papers, but I get it back soon I will look into it.
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Old 01-30-2008, 09:12 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

Gabe, here's the black on the midrib in my plants:



And one in your gallery:



That's really odd about the leaf bases. They are very different from the description!
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Old 01-31-2008, 06:54 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

Cool. This is what I love about this forum.

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Old 01-31-2008, 06:59 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

Well, I have just received word from Professor Hakkinen that the plants I and Eric have posted pictures of are indeed Musa yunnanensis! Nice to hear that from the gentleman that described them.

Gabe, he said that the plant in your pictures is Musa itinerans var. itinerans, which would explain the difference in leaf bases. Otherwise, the two plants look very similar, which would explain the confusion.

This makes me wonder about the seed dealers. I have seen pictures of plants labeled as Musa itinerans that look very similar to Musa yunnanensis from a distance, but differences become more obvious up close. Any Musa itinerans that I've seen, so far, appears to have a reddish-splotched pseudostem as it gains some size to it. Musa yunnanensis does not. I'd be willing to bet that there are plants of both species out there, all being sold as Musa itinerans.
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Old 01-31-2008, 07:03 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

Cool. Wierd...but cool. I had thought I showed him pictures of mine before, but maybe not.
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Old 01-31-2008, 07:11 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa yunnanensis officially described!

Even more of why I like it here!

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