Numerical taxonomy of the wild bananas (Musa)

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SUMMARY

The wild bananas (Musa) were described in numerical terms many years ago, well before ‘numerical taxonomy’ became popular. Those descriptions, slightly supplemented, are here subjected to analysis by modern methods. Principal co-ordinate and clustering techniques give essentially similar results. Five groupings, rather than the four sections traditionally recognized, can be discerned. The fifth group contains five taxa previously included in section Musa (informally ‘Eumusa’) or of uncertain affinity. This group is only somewhat weakly distinguishable from section Australimusa. Several species previously regarded as of uncertain affinity seem to find ‘natural’ places. The results are by no means revolutionary but do encourage modest alteration of traditional views.

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