Monday, August 16, 2010

Distinguishing the Abaca from Banana

When I was in Sorsogon, one of my goals was to see an actual abaca tree, the source for Manila hemp or abaca fiber. For what I know, abaca is Musa textilis, a relative of the common banana. (Musa spp. commonly Musa x domestica) So I was expecting that it would look like a typical banana tree, which makes it harder to identify. Indeed it was.

At first glance at the Bicol countryside, I could not readily distinguish the abaca from the different banana varieties. Since both are sourced with produce, both are also grown in plantations. It took the trained eye of a local to tell the two apart. Abaca I was told has a narrow built than banana trees. The leaves have a slight narrow and pointed tip. The flowers and eventually the fruits are non-remarkable. I still could not readily tell apart abaca from banana. But suddenly specimens became more evident, ironically dispersed with banana trees in plantations, and in outcrops anbd brushes in mountain slopes.

I almost forgot. There was another reason why there are less abaca trees visible in Sorsogon. The tree has a disease spreading called 'bunchy top'. This makes abaca leaf crown deform and easily wilt. Trees are literally cut down to the base and burned to prevent the spread of 'bunchy top'.


dr magsasaka said...

That is too bad! Is it a virus?

metscaper said...

not sure if a virus.

Orville said...

it is a virus transmitted by aphids.

Andrea said...

Hi i just saw blogpost, which i just linked with. It is very informative, esp for trees i want to know. I read most of your posts from present to past. However, i can't resist suggesting here. Bananas are not trees, so they are better called banana plants. I see you are in Archi, so next time, no more banana trees, hehe! I've been suggesting proper ways of writing Sci names and a few others to my Malaysian blogging friends, so i might as well do it with my fellow Filipino. I hope you dont mind.