The families of flowering plants

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Musaceae Juss.

Habit and leaf form. Very large herbs (with pseudo-stems constituted by massive leaf bases); laticiferous. Plants (or at least, the the leaf bases) succulent. Perennial; cormous, or rhizomatous. Pachycaul. Mesophytic. Leaves large to very large; alternate; spiral; flat; petiolate; sheathing. Leaf sheaths with free margins. Leaves simple (but becoming ragged and pseudo-pinnate by tearing between the lateral veins); epulvinate. Lamina entire; lanceolate, or oblong, or ovate (large); pinnately veined (the laterals parallel to one another); without cross-venules (i.e. between the laterals). Vernation convolute.

General anatomy. Plants with laticifers (these articulated, with mucilaginous contents). The laticifers in leaves, in stems, in flowers, and in the fruits. Plants with silica bodies (‘trough-shaped’, mostly associated with the vascular bundles).

Leaf anatomy. Epidermis without silica bodies. Stomata present; tetracytic. Hairs absent. The mesophyll containing mucilage cells (with raphides); containing crystals. The crystals raphides and solitary-prismatic. Foliar vessels absent. Minor leaf veins without phloem transfer cells (1 genus).

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Secondary thickening absent. The axial xylem without vessels.

Root anatomy. Root xylem with vessels; vessel end-walls scalariform and simple.

Reproductive type, pollination. Plants monoecious, or andromonoecious, or polygamomonoecious (?). Floral nectaries present. Nectar secretion from the gynoecium (via septal nectaries). Pollination entomophilous, ornithophilous, and cheiropterophilous.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’. The ultimate inflorescence units cymose. Inflorescences axillary; erect or drooping, thyrses of few flowered cymes; spatheate. Flowers bracteate; medium-sized to large; very irregular; zygomorphic; cyclic; pentacyclic. Perigone tube absent.

Perianth petaline, or of ‘tepals’; 6; joined (five members united, the median inner member posterior and free); rather theoretically 2 whorled (the three outer members and two of the inner members represented by teeth or lobes on a perianth tube, the split coinciding with the inner adaxial, free member); rather theoretically isomerous; petaloid. Corolla if the perianth is interpreted as such, partially gamopetalous (five members joined, one free). The joined petals anterior (the posterior member free). Corolla more or less bilabiate.

Androecium 5, or 6. Androecial members free of the perianth; free of one another; at least theoretically, 2 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens, or including staminodes. Staminodes when present, 1 (the sixth member, opposite the free perianth member, often staminodal or absent). Stamens 5, or 6; diplostemonous; alterniperianthial. Anthers adnate; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate; appendaged (by prolongaton of the connective), or unappendaged. The endothecial thickenings spiral. Microsporogenesis successive. Pollen grains nonaperturate; 2-celled.

Gynoecium 3 carpelled. The pistil 3 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious, or eu-syncarpous; inferior. Ovary 3 locular. The ‘odd’ carpel anterior. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; attenuate from the ovary; apical. Stigmas wet type; papillate; Group III type. Placentation axile. Ovules 10–50 per locule (‘many’); arillate (aril rudimentary), or non-arillate; anatropous; bitegmic; crassinucellate. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Polar nuclei fusing simultaneously with the male gamete. Antipodal cells formed, or not formed (then the three nuclei degenerating early). Synergids pear-shaped. Endosperm formation nuclear.

Fruit fleshy; indehiscent; a berry; 20–100 seeded (‘many’). Seeds endospermic. Endosperm not oily (starchy and mealy). Perisperm present. Seeds with starch. Cotyledons 1. Embryo straight, or curved. Testa without phytomelan; thick, hard.

Seedling. Hypocotyl internode present (fairly pronounced). Mesocotyl absent. Seedling collar conspicuous (in the form of small wings). Cotyledon hyperphyll compact; non-assimilatory. Coleoptile present. Seedling cataphylls present. First leaf dorsiventral. Primary root ephemeral.

Physiology, phytochemistry. C3. C3 physiology recorded directly in Musa. Anatomy non-C4 type (Musa). Acumulated starch other than exclusively ‘pteridophyte type’. Not cyanogenic. Alkaloids present (indole), or absent. Saponins/sapogenins absent (?). Proanthocyanidins present; cyanidin, or cyanidin and delphinidin. Flavonols present, or absent; when detected, kaempferol and quercetin (traces). Ellagic acid absent. Sieve-tube plastids P-type; type II.

Geography, cytology. Tropical. Tropical Asia, Africa, Madagascar and Australia. X = 9–11, 16, 17.

Taxonomy. Subclass Monocotyledonae. Dahlgren et al. Superorder Zingiberiflorae; Zingiberales. APG 3 core angiosperms; Superorder Lilianae; commelinid Monocot; Order Zingiberales.

Species 42. Genera 3; Ensete, Musa, Musella.

Economic uses, etc. In addition to banana and plantain products (including alcohol, meal), Musa species and varieties are important sources of fibre (abaca cloth, Manila hemp).

Illustrations. • Technical details: Musa.


This description is offered for casual browsing only. We strongly advise against extracting comparative information from it. This is much more easily achieved using the interactive key, which allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, distributions of character states within any set of taxa, geographical distribution, genera included in each family, and classifications (Dahlgren; Dahlgren, Clifford, and Yeo; Cronquist; APG).

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 1992 onwards. The families of flowering plants: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. Version: 22nd July 2014. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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