Cook Islands Biodiversity & Natural Heritage

Musa (AAB group)

Meika Mario / Meika Taruā


Multimedia & Additional Resources

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Open this image in pop-up window Image: Fruit and leaves (Blue-green banana) 72KB
Open this image in pop-up window Image: Flower, fruit, leaves and trunk (Red Banana) 54KB
Open this image in pop-up window Image: Fruit and leaves (Red Banana) 48KB

General Information

COMMON NAMES: Banana; German Bananen; French Banane

TRADITIONAL NAMES: Meika Mario / Meika Taruā (RR), Kōkā (MG), Meika Mario / Rōkua (AT), Mario / Rōkua (MK MT), Meika Mario / Taruā (AK), Banana (PL), Maika Taluā (TS), Maika Taruā (TW), Meika (MH RK), Wuti Malio / Taluā / Mitiluki / Wuti Pākekena / Wuti Pukapuka / Wuti Initia (PK), Wuti Malio / Taluā (NS); Other Polynesian - Fa‘i (SAM)


COOK ISLANDS STATUS: Introduced - Polynesian + Recent, Not naturalised; Land, lowlands - mountains (++) (low elev.)

SIGNIFICANCE LIST: Medicine, Food (Fruit 4+)

KEY FEATURES: Variable tree-like herb to 8m. Includes some eaten raw and some eaten cooked. TRUNK usually exceeding 3m and up to 6m, a pseudostem of clasping leaf-stalk sheaths, suckering at base. LEAVES usually 8-20 in terminal cluster, oblong, to 400x80cm, tearing at right angles to midrib; stalk deeply grooved, to 100cm. FLOWERS on terminal hanging stalk with overlapping bracts opening to reveal the flowers before being discarded; female flowers towards base, male towards tip; female flowers to 9cm, few-20 in two rows; male flowers many, to 6cm; bracts red to purple. FRUITS in combs or hands, variable to 30x7cm, straight or curved; flesh starchy to sweet, ripens white, yellow to orange; seedless; skin thin to thick, yellow, green to red. Usually cooked. Famous types'French Plantain', 'Mysore' (sweet, including some Lady's-fingers) and 'Silk'

SIMILAR SPECIES: See under Cavendish Banana (Musa nana).

Enlarged Image of 'Musa (AAB group)'

Cook Islands Distribution

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Southern Group: Present    Makatea: Present

Northern Group: Present

Key to Symbols

Pests & Hosts

Relationship Pests
Herbivorous pest and Disease Vector Pentalonia nigronervosa
Pathogen of bananas Mycosphaerella fijiensis

Scientific Taxonomy

Musa (AAB group) Linnaeus
SYNONYMS: Musa paradisiaca; Musa X paradisiaca; Musa acuminata X Musa balbisiana; Musa X sapientum; Musa paradisiaca paradisiaca [plantain, cooked]; Musa paradisiaca sapientum [eating banana]

TAXONOMY: PLANTAE; ANTHOPHYTA (=Angiospermae); LILIOPSIDA (=Monocotyledones); ZINGIBERIDAE; Zingiberales; MUSACEAE. COMMENT: hybrid of $Musa acuminata@ X @Musa balbisiana@

More Information

GENERAL NOTE: The AAB group divides into two basic groups: cooking bananas (plantains, mainly 'French Plantain') and dessert or eating banana (mainly 'Mysore' and 'Silk'). This basic division is reflected in the Cook Islands: Taruā/Rokua (the cooking bananas) and the Mario (eating bananas, including the Lady's-fingers Banana). The now mainly extirpated Polynesian Introduced bananas also belonged to this group, and they probably developed by hybrisation in the Philippines where Musa balbisiana is native and Musa acuminata was in ancient cultivation. Close relatives of the early Polynesian bananas have not been found elsewhere in southeast Asia nor in New Guinea.

Vouchers & References

Pukapuka: fieldspecimen, 2/2004, G.McCormack with ID as Musa (AAB group).

p.1465 Wagner et al.- Flowering Plants of Hawaii
p.249 Neal - In Gardens of Hawaii
p.762 Royal Hort. Soc. Index of Garden Plants
p.470 Tropica
p.1/183 A.C.Smith - Flora Vitiensis Nova
p.299 A+R Cheeseman - Flora of Rarotonga
p.32 A+R Wilder - Flora of Rarotonga
p.379e Whistler - Ethnobotany of the Cook Islands

Data Update History (information):
zTX, zB02, zM02, zD02

Web Resources

Citation Information

McCormack, Gerald (2007) Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, Version 2007.2. Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust, Rarotonga. Online at Copy citation to system clipboard
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