Help us save the Yunnan banana
Yunnan banana (Musa itinerans) is a wild banana from south-east Asia with pink fruits, which are an important staple food for wild Asian elephants. You can help Kew safeguard this plant for our future by adopting a seed for yourself, or as a gift for £25.
Introducing the Yunnan banana
Yunnan banana (Musa itinerans) is distributed from north-east India to Vietnam and is also found in China, Laos, Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. This species is increasingly under threat in the wild as its jungle habitat is cleared for commercial agriculture.
Individual plants commonly grow to between 3-7 m high, but can reach up to 12 m, with leaves around 3 m in length and 90 cm in width. Shoots grow from a creeping, elongating underground stem (rhizome) leading to the species name “itinerans”.
The banana flower (inflorescence) emerges as a dark reddish bud and as it opens, the slim, nectar-rich, tubular flowers appear. They are clustered in a circular patten (whorled) of double rows along the floral stalk. Each cluster is covered by a thick, waxy, hood-like bract. There are 12-16 flowers per bract.
Followong botanical terminology, the banana fruit is actually a berry with up to 18 banana berries per cluster and up to ten clusters per fruiting head (infructescence). Each banana is up to 14 cm long and contains numerous seeds.
A valuable plant
Its close relationship with edible bananas and plantains makes this species an invaluable genetic resource for the tropical fruit industry. Newly described varieties of Yunan banana (Musa itinerans) may have breeding value and might be used for breeding new banana crop cultivars in the future.
Yunan banana was the 24,200th plant species saved at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. This number was a significant landmark because it meant that 10% of the world’s wild plant species had been banked.
You can adopt this seed for yourself, or as a gift for £25.
When you Adopt a Seed, you'll receive a personalised certificate, featuring your plant species, as a downloadable PDF document you can print off, and regular updates over the year from the Millennium Seed Bank.
For an additional £2, you can have an Adoption Pack posted (either to you, or direct to a gift recipient) featuring a certificate and a full colour picture of your species (UK only).
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