Return to the Key
Juss., Gen. Pl.: 61. 4 Aug 1789.
Native species of the three genera of the Musaceae, Musa (35 species), Musella (1 species), and Ensete (7 species), are restricted to the paleotropics of Africa, eastern Asia, Australia, and the South Pacific. However, all genera, especially Musa, have been extensively cultivated and hybridized for thousands of years and are now distributed around the world. The spirally arranged leaves, separate male and female flowers, and pulpy fruits distinguish the members of the Musaceae from other Zingiberales. The commercial importance of bananas has always focused attention on this family, especially the edible hybrids of Musa. In addition species of Musa (M. acuminata, M. velutina, M. coccinea, and M. ornata), Musella (M. lasiocarpa), and Ensete (E. ventricosum) are cultivated as ornamentals. The family name commemorates Antonius Musa, physician to the first Roman emperor Octavius Augustus.