Musa, commonly called as banana, is one of three genera in the family Musaceae. Musaceae contains bananas and plantains. There are numerous other vernacular names, given according to geographical region, for Bananas/Plaintains. These musas are one of the popular exotic flowers. Edible bananas have originated from Indo-Malaysian region reaching to northern Australia.
The flower stalks of Musas arise from the top of the pseudostem. Flower stalks of Musas are either erect or pendulous, comprising of numerous unisexual flowers borne within colorful broad bracts. The musas species flowers towards the ends of the spikes are male and those toward the base are female.
There is a no clear distinction between Bananas/Plaintains. In popular belief, banana usually refers to the soft, sweet dessert bananas that are usually eaten raw, the bananas from a group of cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit, generally used in cooking rather than eaten raw, are called as plantains.
The inflorescence of musas is a large, long-oval, tapering, purple-clad bud at the terminal spike. As the inflorescence opens there white flowers in clusters, which are nectar rich, and toothed. Each inflorescence is covered by a thick, waxy, hoodlike bract, purple outside, deep-red within. There are 3 types of flowers, female(occupy lower rows), neutral(above rows), and male flowers(occupy upper rows).
As the young musa fruits develop from the female flowers, they look like slender green fingers. The bracts are soon shed and the fully grown fruits in each cluster become a hand of bananas, and the stalk droops with the weight until the bunch is upside down. The number of hands varies with the species and variety.
Facts About Musas species
- The name Musas is in honor of Antonio Musa, a physician during, Octavius Augustus times.
- There are spirally arranged leaves which have huge paddle-shaped leaf blades.
- The wild types in musas contain many seeds whereas the cultivated varieties of the common banana are seedless.
- The edible bananas are the hybrids between Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana.
- The genus Musas was classified before into five sections: Ingentimusa, Australimusa, Callimusa, Musa and Rhodochlamys, but recently have been reduced to three.
Growing Musas species
- Propagation of bananas is done with rhizomes known suckers or pupor.
- True bananas, require full sun or partial shade.
- Plants can be spaced about 10-25 feet apart.
- regularl watering promotes rapid growth in musas.
- Very small pups are called buttons. Large suckers are large called as planting material.
- When the plant is 3 feet tall, they can be removed from clumps with a spade, during warm months.
- Pups should not be taken until a clump has at least three to four large plants to anchor it.
- Bananas will bloom between one to five years after planting ased on the cultivar.
Caring for Musas
- Prune the musas such that only one primary stem is allowed to fruit. Excess shoots should be removed.
- When the main stalk is 6-8 months old, allow one sucker to develop as a replacement stalk for the following season.
- After the fruit harvest, cut the fruiting stalk to 30 inches above the ground.
- Remove the stub, the stalk can be cut into small pieces and used as mulch.
- Banana leaves should be protected from wind so the leaves don't shred.