bananas (Musa) in America

Yuri Kuchinsky yuku at
Thu Aug 21 10:48:33 EST 1997

Many thanks, Michael, for this further and more recent data. I suppose the
mystery of the ancient American banana is becoming easier to understand

It seems that the info you provided leaves no room for doubt that Musa was
present in America before Columbus. I just wonder now how solid was the
evidence on which the mainstream botanists based their conclusions that
Musa was native to Asia...

Is it possible that Musa was taken from America at a very early date and
became so common in Asia that it could have been mistaken for being native
to Asia? 

So it now seems that 2 scenarios are possible, either the one above, or
the indepent domestication in both America and Asia. 

Best wishes,


Yuri Kuchinsky   | "Where there is the Tree of Knowledge, there
     -=-         | is always Paradise: so say the most ancient 
 in Toronto 	 | and the most modern serpents."  F. Nietzsche
 ----- my webpage is for now at: -----

Michael Sternberg (mstern at wrote:
: See Manchester, S.R.,1995, Yes, We Had Bananas, Oregon geology V.57
: No.2, p41-42
: Abstract
: "A fossil banana has been recovered from the middle Eocene Clarno
: Formation, Wheeler County, Oregon.  The fruit is preserved as an
: impression in lacustrine shale from the West Branch Creek assemblage. 
: It is 4 cm. long, 1.5 cm, wide, and slightly curved and has well-defined
: longitudinal and transverse striations.  Three rows of about ten seeds
: are evident, and these seeds correspond in external form to
: permineralized seeds that occur elsewhere in the Clarno Formation.  The
: new information from fruit morphology, together with previous
: investigations of seed structure, indicate that the Clarno banana
: belongs to Ensete, a genus that is native to the Old World tropics
: today.  The presence of this and many other tropical to subtropical
: fruits in the Clarno Formation indicates that Oregon experienced a warm,
: humid climate about 43 million years ago."
: The Mustaceae contains three genera, Musa, Ensete and Musella.  The
: familiar store bought banana is Musa acuminata, bred for negligible
: seeds.

More information about the Bioforum mailing list