SHAHINA A. GHAZANFAR
Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Islamabad
Tree-like herb, the trunk formed of persistent leaf sheaths. Leaves very large, oblong. Inflorescence an erect or drooping spike. Flowers usually unisexual, irregular, the proximal female, distal male. Bracts sometimes brightly coloured, ovate to orbicular. Outer perianth 3-5-toothed, slit to the base on one side. Inner segment about as long as the outer. Stamens 5, perfect; anthers 2-celled, linear. Ovary inferior, 3-locular; placentation axile, ovules numerous. Stigma 3-lobed. Fruit fleshy, a berry, occasionally dehiscent.
A chiefly tropical family with 2 genera and 42 species (Willis, Dict. Fl. Pl. & Ferns, 3 ed. 767.1973), distributed in tropical Africa & Asia. Many species are of great commercial importance, especially the widely grown edible banana. The large leaves are much used for thatching roofs, making mats etc.
Two genera Musa (c. 30 species) and Ensete (6 species). Represented in Pakistan by a single genus.
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the. United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under PL-480. We are also grateful to Dr. G. Argent and Mr. I.C. Hedge, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh for going through the manuscript and giving valuable suggestions.