Musa paradisiaca

Musa paradisiaca


By Lukas Hochenleitter und Kompagnie, via Wikimedia Commons

Musa paradisiaca is the first Linnean name given to a banana and is therefore technically the "type species" for the genus Musa[1], despite the developement, in 1955, of an alternative nomenclature system to classify banana cultivars.

The name was coined by Carl von Linné, the father of modern taxonomy, who described the only banana he was familiar with: a specimen cultivated in George Clifford's glasshouse near Haarlem in the Netherlands and famous for being the first banana to flower in Europe. In 1736 Linné, named it Musa Cliffortiana, which is technically a 'pre-Linnean' name. In Species Plantarum, which was published in 1753, he renamed it Musa paradisiaca, in reference to the forbidden fruit of paradise[2].

Most authorities (e.g. Kew's World Checlist of Selected Plant Families[3]) give Musa paradisiaca or Musa x paradisiaca as an accepted name, thereby perpetuating the practice of giving cultivated bananas Latin binomials.  The "x" indicates that Musa paradisiaca is a hybrid and not a species.

Further contributing to the confusion, the Latin names Musa paradisiaca and Musa sapientum have become associated with the English words plantain and banana[4].


1. Musa x paradisiaca  Musa: An annotated list of the species of Musa by David Constantine.
2. Häkkinen, M., Väre, H. and Christenhusz, M.J.M. 2012. Identity of a Pisang - historical concepts of Musa (Musaceae) and the reinstatement of Musa troglodytarum. Folia Malaysiana 13(2):1-14.
3. Musa x paradisiaca in the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families], retrieved 22 August 2018.

Related content

Musapedia page on the domestication of the banana
Navigate the taxonomy of edible bananas on the cultivar diversity portal

Banana cultivar checklist of local names and synonyms

Contributors to this page: Anne Vézina .
Page last modified on Thursday, 23 August 2018 16:05:34 CEST by Anne Vézina.