Musella

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Musella is a genus comprising one or two species (Musella lasiocarpa, M. splendida) in the family Musaceae native to southeast Asia, including southwest China (Yunnan and Guizhou), Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. This taxon has caused and continues to cause problems for taxonomists and its status is still somewhat controversial.

The plant was first formally named by Franchet in 1889 who placed it in the genus Musa, as Musa lasiocarpa, but in a new section that he named Musella. In 1947, E. E. Cheesman examined herbarium material at Kew and on the evidence before him commented that "whatever it may be, it is certainly not a Musa, sensu stricto" and was not therefore prepared to separate the plant from Ensete. While noting that further study might find that the plant represented a new genus Cheesman thus created the combination Ensete lasiocarpum while reviving the genus Ensete in his 1947 paper.

Norman Simmonds (1960) disagreed with Cheesman although he acknowledged that the general appearance of the plant did indeed suggest an Ensete. Simmonds noted however that the "perianth structure is like that of Musa" and that the "perianth characters are critically diagnostic of genus". Although it is clear that he had not actually seen a living plant Simmonds thus preferred to regard the plant as Musa lasiocarpa.

Other taxonomists consider the plant to be an anomaly in both Musa and Ensete, and in 1978 C. Y. Wu raised Musella to the status of a separate genus although some taxonomists continue to include the species in Musa.

In 2002 a new Musella species, M. splendida, was described from Vietnam (Valmayor and Danh, 2002).

References

  • Cheeseman, E.E. 1947. Classification of the bananas. Kew Bull. No. 2: 97-106.
  • Simmonds, N. W. 1962. The evolution of the banana. Longmans, Green and Co., Ltd. London. 170 pp.
  • Valmayor, R.V., and Le Dinh Danh. 2002. Classification and characterization of Musella splendida sp. nov. The Philippine Agricultural Scientist, 85(2): 204-209 (republished by permission and available as a PDF file in InfoMusa, 11(2): 24-27).
  • Wu C.Y. 1976. Musella lasiocarpa. Iconographia Cormophytorum Sinicorum. Timus V; 580-582 (in Chinese). Also in Florea Relpublicae Popularis Sinicaer, Tomus 16: 2, Peking.

External links

  • Constantine, D. R. (1999): The genus Musella - an annotated list of the species [1]

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