'Saba' at a glance
Ploidy level: 3x
Genome group: ABB
Sub-group: Saba
Status: Cultivar
ITC code:

Saba is the name given in the Philippines to a cooking banana belonging to the Saba subgroup. Its classification at the genome group level is still disputed years after it was suggested to be a triploid of Musa balbisiana origin only1. Whereas some molecular analyses support a BBB genome group234, morphological traits characteristic of Musa acuminata, such as curly bracts, place it among the ABB. On the other hand, if backcrossing with wild relatives was more common than previously thought5, it is possible that backcrosses with M. balbisiana might have led to the substitution of M. acuminata genes by M. balbisiana ones, leaving only remnants of the original M. acuminata genome.

Saba is especially popular in the Philippines, where the male bud is also eaten as a vegetable.


Local names

'Pisang Kepok' (Indonesia), 'Pisang Abu Nipah' (Malaysia), 'Saba' (Philippines), 'Kluai Hin' (Thailand)6{FOOTNOTE()}Ploetz, R.C., Kepler, A.K., Daniells, J.W. and Nelson, S.C. 2007. Banana and plantain: an overview with emphasis on Pacific island cultivars Musaceae (banana family). p27. In: Elevitch, C.R. (ed.). Species profiles for Pacific Island agroforestry. Permanent Agriculture Resources, Holualoa (USA).{FOOTNOTE.

Morphological characteristics


Agronomic characteristics


Reaction to diseases and pests

In the Philippines, where the TR4 strain of the Fusarium fungus is present, Saba (Cardava) did not show symptoms of Fusarium wilt in field trials7.

Reaction to abiotic stress



1. Valmayor, R.V., Jamaluddin, S.H., Silayoi, B., Kusumo, S., Danh, L.D., Pascua, O.C. and Espino, R.R.C. 2000. Banana cultivar names and synonyms in Southeast Asia. INIBAP, Los Baños (PHL). 24p.
2. Espino, R.R.C. 2000. Isozyme analysis of the Philippine bananas: Implication on their evolutionary pathway and classification. The Philippine Agricultural Scientist 83(1):13-27.
3. Sales, E.K. and Espino, R.R.C. 2002. RAPD markers for genetic analysis and classification of Musa B genome. The Philippine Agriculturalist Scientist 87:165.
4. Sales, E.K., Butardo, N.G., Gomez Paniagua, H., Jansen, H. and Dolezel, J. 2011. Assessment of ploidy and genome constitution of some Musa balbisiana cultivars using DArT markers. Philippine Journal of Crop Science 36(1):11-18.
5. De Langhe, E., Hribova, E., Carpentier, S.C., Dolezel, J. and Swennen, R. 2010. Did backcrossing contribute to the origin of hybrid edible bananas? Annals of Botany 106(6):849-857.
6. Jones, D.R. 2000. Introduction to banana, abaca and enset. p1-36. In: Jones, D.R. (ed.). Diseases of banana, Abacá and Enset. CABI Publishing, Wallingford (GBR).

See also on this website

Cultivar pages:
Search for photos of 'Saba' in the Musarama image bank.
Search for articles on 'Saba' in the Musalit bibliographic database.
For accession-level information on 'Saba' in MGIS or to order it online:
Insert ITC code(s) and/or code(s) in other collections, and link to MGIS record