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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 10-07-2006, 05:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Scientific names

When talking about bananas, you are bound to use the scientific names, because there are few common names for them. Well, I have seen many ways to write the names, so I just wanted to show how scientific names are supposed to be written.

So, Musa, or Musella, or Ensete or whatever, the first name, family name is to be written with big letter. Then the name after that, is to be written with small letter. Then there is the variation thing name, like 'African Red', shall have like ('), and not (").

Some examples: Musa ornata 'Royal Purple', Musa ssp. 'Helen's Hybrid', Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'


Not so extremely important, but it looks better and is better to have it right..

Gard
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Old 10-07-2006, 06:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

Pure species are like all living things classified by science such as Musa acuminata (if you wanted to be formal or if you are writting a scientific paper that whole name would be in italics, Musa acuminata). If the origin is not known and/or has a common name, you do like Musa 'African Red', this is not a species name, it is a variety name. The word species is not so well understood sometimes, it is only for the use of wild, natural, untouched-by-man-or-otherwise-untainted plants. Names like Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii' show it is a pure species, but a different form in some way, it is not a subspecies or official scientific variety, just a commercial name for normal red Ensete ventricosum that is heavily cultivated.

Below are examples of all the ways you can see banana names correctly written. However when quickly refering to a species when typing the italics are of course not nessacery and also adding the genetics on the end of edible cultivars is not nessacery unless doing official work.

Musa acuminata
Musa acuminata ssp. zebrina
Musa campestris var. sarawakensis
Musa maclayi ssp. maclayi var. maclayi
Musa 'Cavendish' (AAA)
Musa 'Lavendar Beauty'
Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'
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Old 10-07-2006, 09:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

Scientific names of bananas, like that of citruses will forever be in chaos. No one would agree to standard naming due to the fact that they can be produced true to type from complex hybrids of several species. They can occur as diploids, triploids, quadruploids and other polyploids, and so, if you can reproduce them at will, true to type, either via tissue culture or rhizomes, what would be the official scientific names? The complex hybridization is happening in nature. Funny thing is that citruses can be formed from various hybrids, and the resulting offspring can be produced true to type from seeds via nucellar embryos, fooling a lot of early taxonomists that they fit a true species definition. This throws off everything on how to standardize the naming of such things, and they occur in nature, and so much more with our intervention.

With today's intervention, how do we name such things with interspecies gene splices? Or for example, how would we scientifically name pluots and apriums which are complex hybrids of two distinct species of plums and apricots? We even have tri-species hybrids now that includes peach genes in them, all done without genetic engineering, using ingenuity of plant breeding, which now can be speed up with genetic engineering. Because we can propagate these vegetatively and could behave like a separate species, how do we assign scientific names to these?

Whatever the standard will be, everyone will agree that no one will agree.
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Old 10-08-2006, 02:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

I think Gard's question was regarding the naming more of seeded types, however, there is infact a standard naming system for edible bananas too. It is rather simple....Musa 'Cultivar Name' (Genetics Group). This setup is scientifically valid and accepted. You're right they do not have species names, but they gave up on that quite a long time ago when they realized it was invalid and came up with this system instead. It clearly shows the name, genetic origin, group association and ploidy level. Im sure many people have seen this used.

examples.....
Musa 'Rose' (AA)
Musa 'Saba' (ABB)
Musa 'Cavendish' (AAA)
Musa 'Goldfinger' (AAAA)
Musa 'Giant Kalapua' (ABBT)-M.acuminata, M.balbisianax2, M.textilis
Musa 'Ramina' (Fe'i)- since the genetics of these bananas are not known, they are written as just (Fe'i).
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Old 10-08-2006, 06:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

Just to be a real taxonomy nerd:

The term is "Latin names" for species, not "scientific names".

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Old 10-08-2006, 12:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

Scientific names and latin names are two different things. Scientific naming is commonly based on latin names.

While the convention:
Musa 'cultivar name' (ploidy level)

may be acceptable, and I prefer it myself, it is not based completely on latin names.

while ploidy level is specified, certainly it doesn't tell us what the parent cultivars are.

Just a cultivar name for me would suffice, but how do we technically name these scientifically when we have composition of several species chromosomes lumped up into each cell?
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Old 10-08-2006, 02:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

Quote:
Musa 'Rose' (AA)
Musa 'Saba' (ABB)
Musa 'Cavendish' (AAA)
Musa 'Goldfinger' (AAAA)
Musa 'Giant Kalapua' (ABBT)-M.acuminata, M.balbisianax2, M.textilis
Musa 'Ramina' (Fe'i)- since the genetics of these bananas are not known, they are written as just (Fe'i).
I've seen this AAA, ABB, ... before. It refers to the ploidy level (diploids, triploids, quadruploids, ...)[JoeReal]. I know this somehow deals with the number of DNA helixes in the cell, but how does it affect the fenotype of a banana plant ? Does triploidness causes a plant to have an edible bananas or ones without seeds, a big plant or a dwarf, ... ?

How should I interpret AA or AAA or ABB ? What does the A or the B stand for ?
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Old 10-08-2006, 02:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

Quote:
How should I interpret AA or AAA or ABB ? What does the A or the B stand for ?
A = Musa Acuminata
B = Musa Balbisiana
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Old 10-08-2006, 05:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

Joe,
it is not always several species involved, there are many banana cultivars that are derived from a single species as well. I think there is some confusion when the term "complex hybrids" is mentioned, its not the combination of different species and cultivars that make up other cultivars. Orginally, there were only a few edible bananas that came about in a few different ways, but in all the cases they were random mutations, not all of them continued to hybridise to make different cultivars.

Nearly all banana cultivars are just mutants from a few orginal hybrids, they are mutated clones that not nessacerily had to hybridise with something else, what Im really trying to say is that there arent really "parent cultivars" that make up other cultivars. Its not like a Musa 'X' hybridized with Musa 'Y' to get Musa 'Z'. Really its more of a Musa 'X' mutated into Musa 'Y' and 'Z' if that makes sense.

The parents species are infact known (not to be confused with parent cultivars), thats why we have the genetic naming system, it tells what the orginal parents are, and how they mutated. All that needed to happen was one mistake in cell division of a wild diploid Musa acuminata to form a wild triploid Musa acuminata, these plants would have died in nature to do the fact they cannot produce seed, but humans found these plants and began to cultivate them and since then have chosen mutations for further cultivation.

Edible bananas cannot be given latin binomials, or any variation of those. They are not species, they do not fit into that naming system, they are not even straight hybrids that could be given latin hybrid names, they are in some cases derived from different species, but in all cases mutants.

Wim,
There is a way decode the genetic naming system and make it more valuable to someone who does not understand it so well. Here are some of the most common groups and what they generally (but not always) mean for the fruit of the plant.

AA- small, sweet, dessert bananas
AAA- sweet, dessert bananas
AAB- semi-sweet or sweet, variable bananas
ABB- starchier cooking bananas

There are many different genetic groups but most of them many of us will never be able to grow.
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Old 10-09-2006, 12:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

Gabe, I agree with you there that the root cause of this naming chaos is that bananas do not fit the true definition of a genetic species but outwardly they behave like one. Of course, most edible bananas can be polyploids of one or several species and not necessarily polyploids of different species. If it is composed of polyploid of one species, it would still be easy to name them as the original species, like Musa acuminata. In the very near future, we could have other species incorporated into the ploidy level, aside from acuminata and balbisiana. My question was how to name the more complex of several species and have given various examples not limited to bananas. The complex hybrids occur in nature and the plants are here, living and behaving as they are, and we have not fitted the species definition to give these hybrids the proper scientific naming that would make more sense to our current genetic understanding. What shall we name the complex hybrids? For example in stone fruits, the intraspecific hybrid between plum and apricots are called pluots when more plum characteristics are present, while those with more apricot phenotype are called apriums. If they are equal mix, then they are simply called plumcots. But with bananas, we are dealing with polyploidy also, so it won't be that simple.

The same with citruses, although we have named and internationally accepted several dozen species, it turns out that by genetic testing, these all came from 3 distinct original species. Citron, pummelo, and sweet oranges (IIRC), and all the rest are hybrids. Grapefruits while similar in most ways to pummelos are actually hybrids of orange and pummelo. The reason why we have the same kind of naming trouble is that citruses even when they are complex hybrids even in natural environment, these can produce true to type from seeds, behaving in every way like a separate species, but genetic testing show otherwise. The result is a lot of disagreement on how to really name the current standard cultivars that are actually complex hybridsm, but that our forefathers have named and we all came to accept today.
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Old 10-09-2006, 02:28 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeReal View Post
Gabe, I agree with you there that the root cause of this naming chaos is that bananas do not fit the true definition of a genetic species but outwardly they behave like one.
Joe,
I do not understand what you mean by "they outwardly behave like species", because edible bananas do not. They are for the most part sterile and incabable of producing any seed that is true to type. They are highly mutated and most varieties are rather far removed from there wild congenors. They are not hybrids that were naturally made, they are mutants from some wild plants that were hybrids and some that were not hybrids (the natural crossing of wild Musa is extremely common) that happened to mutate as well. If you cross Musa acuminata with Musa balbisiana, you will get M. acuminata x M. balbisiana, a seeded wild type plant intermediate between the two species, not anything like edible bananas. In my opinion this is a very different case than other fruits, they are not just interspecific hybrids like other cultivated fruit, they are highly mutated unnatural plants.
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Old 10-09-2006, 04:29 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabe15 View Post
Joe,
I do not understand what you mean by "they outwardly behave like species", because edible bananas do not. They are for the most part sterile and incabable of producing any seed that is true to type.
Well, if a plant has its own unique characteristics and able to propagate itself and maintain that characteristic, that to me, is outwardly a manifestation of being a specific kind of plant. Thus specific characteristics make up the plant or group of plants, from the word species. Biology has a much different defintion however, and this includes the clause "are able to breed among themselves, but are not able to breed with members of another species". Does it imply that the thousands of plants that cannot sexually reproduce should not have a species name, and should be considered anomalies? From another point of view, sexual reproduction can be considered a great anomaly, as per evolutionary theory.

For a typical layman, if a plant can be propagated and able to retain its own specific characteristics, it should be treated as a separate distinct kind of plant, regardless of its genetic make-up. That is how as a hobbyist I would treat them. For me, it is more important that you can propagate the plants but maintain their identities, rather than what their parents are, their genetic make-up or whether they are sterile or not. There are several ways to coax the plants to form mutants and to select from these, those that we like, especially the sterile ones.

Thus the ability to sexually reproduce nor sexually recombine do not fit well with plants that can be asexually propagated. For me, it is not a requirement to be fertile or able to reproduce sexually to become a distinct plant. Thus the species definition do not fit a lot of plant cultivars that we are growing today, and there are thousands of plants that have propagated and even evolved or mutated through time without sexual recombination but whose genetic make up are vastly different than their parents. For animals, if a certain species has specialized and could no longer mate with its former group, then it has become a separate species. This definition and Darwinian definition of speciation will not surely work with plants. Not all plants would even fit this paradigm, there are some plants in nature that are always mutating as a way to cope up with radically changing environments. There are too many oddballs and curved balls thrown by nature or from discoveries we made that we cannot generalize many things.

Last edited by JoeReal : 10-09-2006 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 10-10-2006, 12:53 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

I guess you can think of it that way, but for actual banana researchers a species is a wild plant and those that arent are not species, this topic is about what the proper naming of bananas is, not what the proper naming should be. It is important to keep these two groups (edible and wild) seperate for many reasons. There have been some confused banana taxonomists who have tried to give edible bananas species names, such as Musa chiliocarpa, which is Musa 'Thousand Fingers', this is justs plain wrong. Edible bananas were essentially created by humans, for the use of humans, you can't go out into the forests and find wild edible bananas, they dont exist and need to remain a seperate group from the true wild species.
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Old 10-10-2006, 01:13 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

I can't seem to find credible articles coming from Internationally Accredited Scientific Body, or Authoritative Scientific organizations declaring what the official scientific naming of different banana cultivars should be. Would appreciate it if there was a meeting, conference, consensus and proclamation stating such standardization or naming convention, at least for bananas.

Most wild bananas are edible, if you are not limited to the fruits. The piths are good to use as vegetable fiber. Other wild banana fruits can be eaten if cooked, as they are very astringent when eaten fresh. You can look at various PDF articles in www.inibap.org the link which I was the first to share in this forum a long time ago.
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Old 10-10-2006, 02:55 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

Quote:
Most wild bananas are edible, if you are not limited to the fruits. The piths are good to use as vegetable fiber. Other wild banana fruits can be eaten if cooked, as they are very astringent when eaten fresh.
Imagine beeing stranded on an island, with only a musa basjoo grove, do you think these bananas would be nutritional enough to keep a person alive for a week or two?

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Old 10-10-2006, 03:04 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Scientific names

Quote:
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Imagine beeing stranded on an island, with only a musa basjoo grove, do you think these bananas would be nutritional enough to keep a person alive for a week or two?

The point is edibility, and not total nutrition. One could easily go fishing, hunting, pick up clams, eat other plants. I wouldn't touch the Musa basjoo except perhaps to make dinner plates, rafts, ropes that I will use for fishing or getting off that island.

We have some food groups that are toxic or extremely unpalatable and painful if eaten raw but when processed properly, they can be staple food. Can you name some of them?
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