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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Musaceae
Families of Flowering Plants
as of 2002-11-28

Recent comparative studies of plastid and nuclear gene sequences coupled with the application of cladistics is providing a new, somewhat controversial, ordinal classification of flowering plants. However, the Zingiberales have been only slightly affected by such studies.

Superorder Zingiberanae
Order Zingiberales
Family Musaceae, Strelitziaceae, Lowiaceae, Heliconiaceae, Costaceae, Zingiberaceae, Cannaceae, Marantaceae

The Musaceae contains three genera:


The genus Musa was first described by the pre-Linnean Rumphius but was formally established in the first edition of Linnaeus' Species Plantarum in 1753 the publication that marks the boundary between pre-Linnean and post-Linnean literature. When he wrote Species Plantarum Linnaeus was familiar with only one type of banana but he had had the opportunity of seeing it first hand, growing under glass in the garden of Mr George Cliffort near Haarlem in Holland. The "type" species of the genus, Musa paradisiaca L. was based on Musa Cliffortiana L. which, being published in 1736, is technically a "pre-Linnean" Linnean name. Musa paradisiaca is not actually a species at all but a hybrid known today as Musa (AAB group) 'French' plantain. That Linnaeus chose wrongly to give a species name to a complex hybrid was the foundation for much confusion in the taxonomy of the genus that was not resolved until the 1940s and 1950s.

Until 1862 Musa was the only genus in the family. In 1862, Horaninow described Ensete but the genus did not receive widespread recognition until revived by Cheesman in 1947. The situation of Musella remains somewhat controversial. Musella lasiocarpa has been round the taxonomic block, being placed first in Musa and then in Ensete and back to Musa before eventually it's monotypic status was recognised, at least by some, around 1978.

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