Banana Family

Roger Spencer

Hairless tree-like rhizomatous or cormous perennial herbs. False stems erect, comprised of overlapping leaf sheaths. Leaves spirally arranged with large lanceolate to oblong blades that are rolled in bud and pinnately veined. Flower clusters terminal, erect or pendulous. Flowers irregular, mostly unisexual, in the axils of large, usually coloured bracts, the female or bisexual flowers in the lower part of the cluster, male flowers towards the tip, often producing copious nectar. Sepals and petals 3, or perianth of 5 fused and 1 free segments, often forming a 3-sided hood. Stamens 5(6). Ovary inferior, of 3 chambers. Fruit a many-seeded berry or fleshy capsule with axile placentation, the seeds absent in edible cultivars.

A family sometimes taken to include Heliconiaceae and Strelitziaceae.

Musa is the edible banana and source of fibre. Apart from being eaten raw, bananas may be chipped, fried, flaked, dried, juiced or powdered, and used even to produce a beer.

Characteristic habit. Like Ensete but with a distinct leaf stalk between the blade and sheath; fertile stamens 5 or 6; leaves on false stems with bases overlapping; flowers unisexual.

2 genera and about 55 species of the Old World tropics.

Source: Spencer, R. (2005). Musaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 5. Flowering plants. Monocotyledons. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Lilianae
order      Zingiberales
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
genus        Ensete Horan.
genus        Musa L.