Musa acuminata (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
Introduction
List of species


Musa acuminata Colla

Protologue: Musaceae

Synonyms

  • Musa malaccensis Ridl.,
  • M. truncata Ridl.,
  • M. zebrina Van Houtte ex Planch.

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: pisang batu (Indonesian), gedang klutuk (Javanese), cau batu (Sundanese).

Distribution

The origin is not very well known but it is thought that the primary gene centre is Peninsular Malaysia and possibly also the immediately adjacent areas. At present it is distributed from India to Malesia.

Uses

The underside of the leaf blade bears a thick white wax layer, which can be collected by scraping. It is then liquidized by heating and cleaned by filtering, after which it solidifies into a hard white wax with a high melting point (about 80 °C). One of the uses of this hard wax is in the batik industry. The wild M. acuminata has played an important role in the development of the edible banana cultivars; it contributed the AA genome. The rhizomatous roots are sometimes eaten in times of food shortage and the leaves are used for wrapping of food and packing, just like those of other bananas. The inflorescence is sometimes eaten like a vegetable. Mature fruits, full of seeds, are not edible, but in Java young fruits (astringent to the taste) are used as a flavouring for the sauce of fruit salad ("rujak").

Observations

  • Tufted, rhizomatous, 4-30-stemmed, erect herb, 4-9 m tall.
  • Pseudostem (consisting of numerous completely convolute leaves) slender, 3-7 m tall.
  • Leaves oblong from an acute or obtuse base, acutely passing into the petiole, 2-2.7 m × 40-75 cm, green or purplish-green, usually pruinose on the lower surface.
  • Inflorescence racemiform, on a pubescent peduncle arising from the rhizome through the pseudostem; bracts dark purple; female hands 4-10, 12-26-flowered; male hands 12-23-flowered, compound tepal about 4 cm × 1.2 cm, creamy-white, free tepal about half as long, filaments about 1 cm, anthers 1.5 cm long.
  • Fruit a berry, up to about 13 cm long, usually curved, 5-sided in cross-section, glabrous to covered with soft hairs, yellow with red blotches, pulp yellow-white.
  • Seed angular but flat on one face, 6-7 mm × 3 mm, dark brown.

M. acuminata occurs in light forest, forest borders and ravines in not too dry regions. It is very variable and, for example in Java, 3 formas have been distinguished although intermediates also exist. Particularly forma cerifera Backer has a very densely white pruinose leaf underside and the berry is covered with soft hairs. The wax yield per plant is about 200 g and 100 leaves yield about 0.5 kg pure wax. The wax layer is said to be thicker on plants growing in mountainous areas.

Selected sources

5, 11, 17, 23, 38. exudates