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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Temporal range: Eocene–Recent
Ensete superbum at the United States Botanic Garden
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Musaceae
Genus: Ensete

See text

Ensete is a genus of monocarpic flowering plants native to tropical regions of Africa and Asia. It is one of the three genera in the banana family, Musaceae, and includes the false banana or enset (E. ventricosum), an economically important food crop in Ethiopia.[1][2][3]


The genus Ensete was first described by Paul Fedorowitsch Horaninow (or Horaninov, 1796–1865) in his Prodromus Monographiae Scitaminarum of 1862 in which he created a single species, Ensete edule. However, the genus did not receive general recognition until 1947 when it was revived by E. E. Cheesman in the first of a series of papers in the Kew Bulletin on the classification of the bananas, with a total of 25 species.[4]

Taxonomically, the genus Ensete has shrunk since Cheesman revived the taxon. Cheesman acknowledged that field study might reveal synonymy and the most recent review of the genus by Simmonds (1960) listed just six. Recently the number has increased to seven as the Flora of China has, not entirely convincingly, reinstated Ensete wilsonii. There is one species in Thailand, somewhat resembling E. superbum, that has not been formally described, and possibly other Asian species.[citation needed]

It is possible to separate Ensete into its African and Asian species.

Ensete gilletii synonym Ensete livingstonianum - native range W. Tropical Africa to Malawi
Ensete homblei - native range is SE. DR Congo to N. Zambia
Ensete perrieri – endemic to Madagascar but intriguingly like the Asian E. glaucum
Ensete ventricosum – enset or false banana, widely cultivated as a food plant in Ethiopia
Ensete glaucum – widespread in Asia from India to Papua New Guinea
Ensete superbum – Western Ghats of India
Ensete wilsoniiYunnan, China, but doubtfully distinct from E. glaucum
Ensete sp. "Thailand" – possibly a new species or a disjunct population of E. superbum

Extinct species[edit]

Ensete oregonense Clarno Formation, Oregon, United States, Eocene[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilkin, Paul; Demissew, Sebsebe; Willis, Kathy; Woldeyes, Feleke; Davis, Aaron P.; Molla, Ermias L.; Janssens, Steven; Kallow, Simon; Berhanu, Admas (2019). "Enset in Ethiopia: a poorly characterized but resilient starch staple". Annals of Botany. 123 (5): 747–766. doi:10.1093/aob/mcy214. PMC 6526316. PMID 30715125.
  2. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  3. ^ "Uses of Enset". The 'Tree Against Hunger': Enset-Based Agricultural Systems in Ethiopia. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 1997. Archived from the original on 19 August 2007. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  4. ^ Cheesman, E. E. 1947. Classification of the bananas. I. The genus Ensete Horan and the genus Musa L. Kew Bulletin (GBR), 2: 97-117
  5. ^ Manchester, Steven R.; Kress, W. John (1993-11-01). "Fossil bananas (Musaceae): Ensete oregonense sp. nov. from the Eocene of western North America and its phytogeographic significance". American Journal of Botany. 80 (11): 1264–1272. doi:10.1002/j.1537-2197.1993.tb15363.x. ISSN 0002-9122.

Relevant literature[edit]

  • Borrell, James S., Mark Goodwin, Guy Blomme, Kim Jacobsen, Abebe M. Wendawek, Dawd Gashu, Ermias Lulekal, Zemede Asfaw, Sebsebe Demissew, and Paul Wilkin. "Enset‐based agricultural systems in Ethiopia: A systematic review of production trends, agronomy, processing and the wider food security applications of a neglected banana relative." Plants, People, Planet 2, no. 3 (2020): 212-228.

External links[edit]