Monday, April 25, 2011

southern parts of Western Ghats is the origin for ‘matti' bananas

The Western Ghats is home to many endangered species of flora. Continuous research in Megamalai and forest surrounding Mangaladevi Kannagi Temple in Theni district has proved that southern parts of Western Ghats is the origin for ‘matti' bananas ( Musa Accuminata), a variety predominantly grown only in Kanyakumari district in the State.
Researchers believe that this cultivable variety could have been evolved from continuous domestication of the ‘wild matti' present in the southern Western Ghats, said V. Ganesan, District Forest Officer.
Hill banana is a popular fruit in the country, known for its nutritional value. The origin of this species had been traced to the Indo-Malayan belt. Cultivatable banana evolved from two wild species — ‘ Musa acuminata' and ‘ Musa Balbisiana.' Though various varieties such as ‘Poovan,' ‘Rasthali,' red banana, Hill banana, Nendran, Monthan, dwarf Cavendish, Ney poovan and ‘matti' are famous in various part of the State, knowledge about wild species was very limited, Mr. Ganesan said.
A related genus of ‘kalvazhai' ( Ensete Superbum), known to occur on Western Ghats, was found in Mangaladevi Kannagi Temple forest area recently.
Plant exploration and expeditions conducted by the forest officer in the rainforests abutting private estates in Megamalai, one of the biodiversity hotspots in Western Ghats, resulted in discovery of the wild banana, popularly known as ‘Channa vazhai.' After in-depth study of morphological characters of leaves, pseudo stem, flowers and fruits, the variety resembled to that of cultivated ones.
Similar study conducted on various parts of Western Ghats between Anamalai and Kanyakumari in the past decade confirmed the origin of ‘Matti' variety of the wild banana, Mr. Ganesan said.

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