Musa formosana

This was originally submitted as a question on our old Trebrown forum.

“Hello! (sorry in advance for my bad english) I received today my orders, all is perfect, thank you. I ordere Musa formosana and I looked for some informations about this specimen and I found nothing. Could you please give me another name or a link with internet or a title of a book (French books on banana are very rare! Thanks in advance. Regards. Hervé”

Young Musa formosana plant in the mountains of Taiwan. Copyright © Phil Markey

Young Musa formosana plant in the mountains of Taiwan. Copyright © Phil Markey

These are the official names given at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew: http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/wcsp/home.do

Musa basjoo var. formosana (Warb.) S.S.Ying, Mem. Coll. Agric. Natl. Taiwan Univ. 25: 100 (1985). === Musa formosana (Warb.) Hayata Musa formosana (Warb.) Hayata, Icon. Pl. Formosan. 6(Suppl.): 83 (1917). Taiwan. 38 TAI. Herb. phan. * Musa × paradisiaca var. formosana Warb.

This is a locally common species in the mountains of Taiwan. But until now it is totally unknown in cultivation.

Kew have now officially recognized the name ‘Musa formosanaMusa formosana (Warb.) Hayata, Icon. Pl. Formosan. 6(Suppl.): 83 (1917). Taiwan. 38 TAI. Herb. phan. * Musa × paradisiaca var. formosana Warb.

I just ordered these seeds from you a month or so ago, and am wondering what the performance has been in the UK? I think seeds were introduced previously, but I’m not sure. It’s supposed to look like a dwarf Basjoo right? Thanks Kyle.

Musa formosana banana plant with fruit. High mountains of Taiwan. Copyright © Phil Markey

Musa formosana banana plant with fruit. High mountains of Taiwan. Copyright © Phil Markey

Kyle, I did bring some over 3 years ago, but I didn’t sell any and I killed all the ones I grew through neglect. As far as I know nobody other than myself has had them in cultivation until now (2006). They can grow quite a bit larger than M. basjoo. Well taller anyway! It depends on the environment. If I had my scanner working I would show you some pictures. I collect the seeds myself, and I have seeds from 3 different locations. One location is the highest locality in the north of Taiwan (all of these seeds I’m growing myself to test hardiness against the others). The seeds that I’m selling come from high altitude central Taiwan. I’ll have more of these here soon. And I also have some that came from much lower altitude in the south of Taiwan. These plants were the tallest of the 3. They’re all germinating well, and the plants are coming on. But it will take a while to know the hardiness extent. I’ll be looking for Musa insularimontana on Lan yu island on my next Taiwan expedition. I guess you’d be interested in those Kyle.

See the Musa formosana species information in the Trebrown Species Database

3 thoughts on “Musa formosana

  1. The large Treeferns are Cyathea lepifera and Cyathea spinulosa which both grow to 6 m tall. But I’ve also seen Cyathea podophylla at 2 m and Cyathea metteniana at 1 m. I don’t know how the law stands for exporting treefern trunks from Taiwan. Would there be a market for these species? It’s not my subject, but could investigate. I can’t remember which of the taller ones I’ve seen above the tree-line at high elevation but you are right, at least some of these can take considerable frost and snow.

  2. Phil, any chance you could keep an eye open for Taiwanese species of tree ferns while you are there ? Spores of the Far Eastern tree ferns are very hard to obtain.

    For example: Cyathea lepifera, podophylla, fenicis, hancockii, loheri, metteniana, spinulosa. Coming from Taiwan there is a chance that some of them may be slightly cold-tolerant. I think none of them are in cultivation in the UK with the possible exception of spinulosa. In particular C. lepifera is promising, Ian Barclay’s site notes “It is beautiful and easily grown in cool conditions, requiring only generous amounts of moisture to thrive, and probably tolerating a few degrees of frost.”

  3. I’m planning another expedition to the mountains and islands of Taiwan again this year. My trip will either be this coming Spring 2009 or the late Autumn. Either way I should almost certainly be able to collect more M. formosana seeds.

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