A noteworthy banana: Musa haekkinenii

Musa haekkinenii is a wild species of banana that appears to grow only in mountainous forests of northern Vietnam but in reality its precise distribution is not known because these days it is found only as an ornamental in some private gardens and nurseries. Expeditions to possible growing sites in 2008 and 2010 failed to locate any wild populations.
[Image: Markku Häkkinen]
This species has been named in honour of Markku Häkkinen, a Finnish botanist who was a former sea captain but became interested in bananas. Häkkinen is now considered one of the world's foremost experts on the taxonomy of bananas. He has described forty-six out of the seventy known species of wild bananas and three species have been named after him: Musa haekkinenii, Musa velutina markkuana and Musa markkui.

Musa haekkinenii is locally referred to as Chuoi rung hoa do (‘red wild banana’) and it is only a rather smallish species (1 to 1.5 m high) that has an erect inflorescence and a slender pseudostem (3-4 cm in diameter). Its leaf habit is semi-erect and it produces 2 to 6 suckers close to the base of the mother plant. The persistent male bracts are bright scarlet on both surfaces and curved downward. The fruit position is oblique in relation to the axis.

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