Diversity of banana cultivars


This portal is part of an on-going effort to document the diversity of edible bananas, all of which have lost the ability to reproduce sexually during the process of domestication and as a result only reproduce asexually via suckers, and clarify their taxonomy. Musapedia pages on edible bananas lists the cultivars and improved materials that have a Musapedia page, while Taxonomy of edible bananas does the same for the genome groups and the subgroups (groups of cultivars that are somatic variants, i.e.  they are nearly identical genetically but exhibit morphological differences as a result of somatic mutations and epigenetic processes ). This classification is based on the nomenclature system developed by Simmonds and Shepherd.

The number of banana cultivars is hard to pin down. It used to be estimated at 500 or so1 2 , but it has also been suggested that it could be twice as many. However, not all cultivars are genetically unique (see subgroups in the above paragraph). Genetic diversity is greatest between subgroups, not all of which have been identified.

You can also consult the banana cultivar checklist, whose goal is to list the various vernacular names given to banana cultivars and identify which ones are synonyms (different names that refer to the same clone) and homonyms (similar names that refer to different clones).

If you are wondering why this portal is not called the diversity of bananas and plantains, check out our take on the question.



1 Page 167 in Stover, R.H. and Simmonds, N.W. 1987. Bananas. 3 ed., Tropical Agricultural Series. Longman, New York (USA). 468p.
2 Perrier, X. and Tézenas du Montcel, H. 1990. Musaid : a computerized determination system. p.76-91. In: Jarret, R. (ed.). Proceedings of Identification of Genetic Diversity in the genus Musa, Los Banos (PHL), 1988/09/05-10. Identification of Genetic diversity in the genus Musa: Proceedings of an International Workshop. INIBAP, Montpellier, France.

Related content

Checklist of names of cultivated bananas
Where bananas come from in Under the peel, the blog of the ProMusa community, 7 October 2015
The hidden side of banana diversity in InfoMus@'s News and analysis, 24 October 2017