Musella (Fr.) C. Y. Wu
The Musaceae of Yunnan. 1978
Type: M. lasiocarpa (Fr.) C. Y. Wu
Synonymy: Musa L. sect. Musella Fr. in Morot, Journ. Bot. 3: 329. 1889
Large herbs with erect shoots from 1.5-2.0 m in height (at reproductive maturity). Branches originating from leaf axils above ground. Pseudostem to 1 m in height, swollen at base, loosely sheathed by leaf bases. Leaves large, spirally arranged; petiole green, somewhat glaucous, C-shaped, 25-40 cm long, 2-3 cm diameter; blade medium green, slightly glaucous above, pale and glaucous below; midrib shallowly sunken, much paler above, prominently raised, slightly paler below; lateral venation flat, paler above, flat and slighty darker below, departing midrib at 35-50 degree angle, base acute to obtuse, somewhat decurrent onto petiole, apex acuminate, typically drying soon after emergence. Main inflorescence terminal on at least partially leafy shoot, erect, less than 30 cm long; peduncle 0-5 cm long, 7.0 cm diameter, green and white, glabrous; rachis obscure; internodes short, bracts appressed; bracts arranged in spirals, 5 to a whorl in upper, male portion of inflorescence, 3 per whorl in the lower female portion, sometimes lowest bracts without flowers; about 16 with female flowers, numerous (>150) with male flowers, oriented approximately 90 degrees to the axis of inflorescence, bright yellow, tinted reddish at tips, along margins, female bracts 11-17 cm long, 5-6.5 cm wide at base, long acuminate at apex, each subtending 3-4 flowers; male bracts 7-8.5 cm long, 4-6 cm wide at base, acute to weakly acuminate at apex, each subtending 3-6 flowers; bracts turning brown, beginning to decay after anthesis, persisting on inflorescence. Basal flowers probably female only; upper flowers male; female flowers not seen; male flowers with ovary 6 mm long, 4 mm wide, yellowish green, glabrous; perianth 2.5 cm long, 8 mm wide, yellow green at base becoming yellow at apex, glabrous, composed of a fused tepal consisting of 3 sepals and 2 petals; tepal 5-lobed; free inner petal straight, same texture as fused tepal; stamens 2.2-2.4 cm long, filaments 7-8 mm long, straight, anthers 1.5-1.7 cm long; fruit dull green and brown, hirsute to lannate, dry, with little pulp, 5.2 cm long, 4.1 cm wide; Secondary inflorescences axillary, erect; peduncle short; internodes short, bracts appressed, arranged in spirals, 5 per whorl in upper male portion, 3-4 per whorl in lower female portion; first six bracts held female flowers, 1 flower per bract, bracts bright yellow, turning brown after anthesis, on female portion 6.5-7.5 cm long, 2.2-2.7 cm wide at base; on male portion, >25 bracts, 2 flowers per bract, bracts bright yellow, 6.0-6.2 cm long, 3.4-3.5 cm wide at base. 2n=?
Musella is known only from Yunnan Province, China, primarily at elevations exceeding 1500 m, where it is commonly cultivated. It may be extinct in the wild.
Only a single species, M. lasiocarpa, has been assigned to this genus. Various taxonomists have placed this species in genus Musa (Franchet, 1889, Simmonds, 1962), and Ensete (Cheesman, 1947). Based upon the floral characters alone, it is impossible to place this species in the genus Ensete. Branching habit and inflorescence type separate it from Musa.
Common Names, Uses and Notes:
Rock banana; leaves and shoots are used as feed for livestock in China (Kress, pers. comm.).
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