Andamans yield a sweet banana with orange pulp

The species, Musa indandamanensis, was located about 16 km inside the Krishna Nalah forest in the island.

October 11, 2015 11:19 pm | Updated 11:19 pm IST - Kolkata:

Scientists at the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have discovered a new species of banana from a remote tropical rain forest on the Little Andaman islands.

The species, Musa indandamanensis , was located about 16 km inside the Krishna Nalah forest in the island.

The scientists who have made the discovery describe it as a distinct global species with unique green flowers and fruit bunch lux (axis) thrice the size of a regular banana species.

“The new species is about 11 metres high, whereas as the usual banana species is about three to four metres high. The fruit lux of the new species is about one metres, which is thrice the size of regular species,” Lal Ji Singh, Head of Office, Botanical Survey of India, Andaman & Nicobar Regional Centre, told The Hindu .

The details of the new species were published in Taiwania , an international journal on taxonomy and life sciences recently. Mr. Singh said that the species was edible and very sweet. The tribal people on the island eat it. The fruit pulp is orange in colour, distinctive from the white and yellow colour of regular bananas.

Unlike the other banana species whose flowers are conical, its flowers are cylindrical.

Mr. Singh, however, pointed out that the number of plantains was very limited and the species needed conservation. “Since this newly discovered plant has a relatively big fruit lux, the genes from the plant can be very useful in boosting banana production in the country,” he said.

Unlike other common species, the seeds can be used for germinating new plants. “We have also introduced this banana plant species in our garden in Port Blair as part of our efforts to have ex-situ conservation,” the scientist said.

Approximately 52 species of banana are reported to occur in the wild across the world and 15 such species are reported to occur in India.

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