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Project Name Data (Last Modified On 10/28/2012)

Flora Data (Last Modified On 10/28/2012)
Description Herbs, frequently of gigantic size, with rhizomes and fibrous or tuberous roots, the stems often very short or formed by the closely imbricate bases of the sheathing petioles; leaves spiral or distichous, with sheathing petioles, without ligules; inflorescence with large foliaceous or somewhat petalaceous bracts sub- tending cincinnal clusters of few to numerous flowers; flowers zygomorphic, perfect or unisexual; perianth of 2 separate series of 3 more or less united segments each, both petalaceous or the outer somewhat sepalaceous; stamens 5, rarely 6, free, the outermost occasionally staminodial; anthers 2-celled, narrowly linear, longitudinally dehiscent; ovary inferior, 3-celled, each bearing 1 to many ovules; style filiform; fruit fleshy and indehiscent or capsular and loculicidally 3-valved; seeds occasionally arillate.
Note Heliconia, the only native genus of this family in Panama, is common in forests at all but the highest elevations, and is known popularly as Platanillo, or "Wild Banana" and "Wild Plantain" by the West Indians. One of the chief in- dustries of the Republic is the cultivation and exportation of the Banana, Musa sapientum L. M. paradisiaca L., the Plantain, or Platano, is an omnipresent fruit for cooking. M. textilis Nee, the Manila Hemp or Abaca, probably is destined to become an important economic crop plant. M. Cavendishii Lamb. and M. Ensete Gmel. are encountered in cultivation. Ravenala madagascarensis Sonn., the Traveler's Tree, or Arbol de Vidjero, is a curious, flat-sided ornamental oc- casionally planted for striking landscape effects. The taxonomy of the Musaceae is in a very unsatisfactory state at present. Particularly is this true of Heliconia, the species of which have been split so finely and juggled between Helicoiia and the illegitimate Bihai with such ambi- dexterity that a final solution will come only with the most painstaking and intimate study. In the absence of such an extensive treatment, the account which follows must be regarded as provisional.
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