The Largest Banana Tree of the World is in Papua, Archaeologists: Prehistoric Plants

goodmorningpapua.com – Musa Ingens or Musa Ingens NW Simmonds is the scientific name of the largest banana tree in the world. This plant was first discovered in the Afrak Mountains, West Papua, with an altitude of 100 to 200 meters above sea level.

A researcher from the Papua Archaeological Center, Hari Suroto, explained that Musa ingens is a plant that has existed since prehistoric times. “Bananas, sugarcane and taro have been plants since prehistoric times in Papua,” he said when contacted on Friday night, August 20, 2021.

According to Hari, the banana tree, which can grow to a height of 25 to 30 meters, is endemic to the island of New Guinea. For the Melanesian region and New Guinea, this type of spreading is only found in Papua, covering not only the Arfak Mountains Nature Reserve in Manokwari, but also in Kaimana, Wondama Bay and Fak-Fak (Central Fak-Fak Nature Reserve), also in Yapen Regency. (Central Yapen Nature Reserve) and Tambrauw Regency (Banfot and Esyom Muara Kali Ehrin).

“This type of banana along with the stick sky banana was domesticated by humans about 10,000 years ago,” said Hari.

The island of New Guinea including Papua and Papua New Guinea, is near the equator and has a tropical climate. The main soil types in areas near the equator that are always wet are generally formed from yellow to red shallow humus (laterite) soils which are often called latosols.

This type of soil is rich in iron and aluminum, and is generally acidic and very clayey and sticky. “In addition, the content of nutrients and organic substances is usually low,” he said.

In the area, the archaeologist who graduated from Udayana University, Bali, explained that plants thrive throughout the year, and rainforest trees are larger. Early farmers in Papua, at least always harvested food crops, some 10,000 years ago.

Taro and banana are important fruits and are cultivated locally, ranging from the Eumusa species in western Indonesia to Australimusa in Maluku and New Guinea. In prehistoric times in Papua, several species of banana, breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), sugarcane, and sweet potato were domesticated in New Guinea and Melanesia.

However, the stick sky banana is preferred over Musa ingens which has many seeds. The Musa ingens banana by Papuans only uses its leaves for roofs of temporary houses in the forest, sitting mats, and food mats. “While the midrib is for storing game or garden produce,” he added.

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