Bananas and People in the Homeland of Genus Musa: Not just pretty fruit

Jean Kennedy

Abstract


Bananas, perhaps the most recognisable of fruits, are nowhere more genetically diverse than in the southwest Pacific, where parthenocarpic fruit originated according to recent biomolecular evidence. In the wider Indo-Malesian area, homeland of the genus Musa L., understanding the domestication of bananas must include consideration of a much greater range of Musa species than just the few implicated in the parentage of the modern cultivars with seedless fruit.

Despite ethnobotanical evidence that the genus has been valued for many more products than the edible fruit, the role of other products in the process of domestication is seldom considered. As well as documenting the development and spread of seedless cultivars, we need to develop models of the fundamental Indo-Malesian practices through which the greater range of species and products, seeds and all, were managed in diverse socio-cultural and environmental circumstances. 


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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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