Ensete

Ensete

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Encyclopedia
Ensete, or Enset, is a genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of plant
Plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

s, native to tropical regions of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. It is one of the three genera in the banana
Banana
Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red....

 family, Musaceae
Musaceae
Musaceae is a botanical name for a family of flowering plants. The family is native to the tropics of Africa and Asia. The plants have a large herbaceous growth habit with leaves with overlapping basal sheaths that form a pseudostem making some members appear to be woody trees.The family has been...

.

Domesticated enset in Ethiopia


"Enset provides more amount of foodstuff per unit area than most cereals. It is estimated that 40 to 60 enset plants occupying 250-375 sq. meters can provide enough food for a family of 5 to 6 people." – Country Information Brief, FAO
Fão
Fão is a town in Esposende Municipality in Portugal....

 June 1995

Enset (E. ventricosum) is commonly known as "false banana" for its close resemblance to the domesticated banana plant. It is Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

's most important root crop, a traditional staple crop in the densely populated south and southwestern parts of Ethiopia. Its importance to the diet and economy of the Gurage and Sidama peoples was first recorded by Jerónimo Lobo
Jerónimo Lobo
Jerónimo Lobo was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary.He was born in Lisbon the third of at least five sons and six daughters to Francisco Lobo da Gama, the Governor of Cape Verde, and Dona Maria Brandão de Vasconcelos. He entered the Order of Jesus at the age of 14...

. The root is the main edible portion as its fruit is not edible. Each plant takes four to five years to mature, at which time a single root will give 40 kg of food. Due to the long period of time from planting to harvest
Harvest
Harvest is the process of gathering mature crops from the fields. Reaping is the cutting of grain or pulse for harvest, typically using a scythe, sickle, or reaper...

, plantings need to be staggered over time, to ensure that there is enset available for harvest in every season. Enset will tolerate drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

 better than most cereal crops.

Wild enset plants are produced from seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

s, while most domesticated plants are propagated from suckers
Basal shoot
A basal shoot, root sprout, adventitious shoot, water sprout or sucker is a shoot or cane which grows from a bud at the base of a tree or shrub or from its roots. This shoot then becomes, or takes the form of, a singular plant. A plant that produces suckers is referred to as surculose...

. Up to 400 suckers can be produced from just one mother plant. In 1994 3,000 km² of enset were grown in Ethiopia, with a harvest estimated to be almost 10 tonnes per hectare. Enset is often intercropped with sorghum
Sorghum
Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, one of which is raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants either cultivated or as part of pasture. The plants are cultivated in warmer climates worldwide. Species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continents...

, although the practice amongst the Gedeo is to intercrop it with coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

.

A traditional food plant in Africa, this little-known vegetable has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security
Food security
Food security refers to the availability of food and one's access to it. A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. According to the World Resources Institute, global per capita food production has been increasing substantially for the past...

, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare. It is a major crop, although often supplemented with cereal crops, amongst the following people indigenous to southern Ethiopia: the Aari, Basketo
Basketo people
The Basketo people are an Omotic-speaking ethnic group whose homeland lies in the southern part of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region . The Basketo special woreda is named after this ethnic group...

, Dime, Dizi
Dizi people
Dizi is the name of an ethnic group living in southern Ethiopia. They share a number of somatic similarities with certain culturally related peoples of south-western Ethiopia, which include the Sheko and Nao, the Gimira , the Tsara, the Dime, the Aari and certain sub-groups of the Basketo people....

, Gamo
Gamo people
Gamo is the name of the Ethiopian ethnic group who speak the Gamo language. The name "Gamo" means a lion, which refers to their legacy; along with the Goffa, they gave their names to the former Gamo-Gofa province of Ethiopia. The 2007 Ethiopian national census reported that 1,107,163 people ...

, Gedeo
Gedeo people
The Gedeo are an ethnic group in southern Ethiopia. The Gedeo Zone in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region is named for this people...

, Gimira, Goffa, Gurage
Gurage
Gurage is an ethnic group in Ethiopia. According to the 2007 national census, its population is 1,867,377 people , of whom 792,659 are urban dwellers. This is 2.53% of the total population of Ethiopia, or 7.52% of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region...

, Hadiya
Hadiya
The Hadiya Kingdom was an ancient kingdom in located in southwestern Ethiopia, south of the Abbay River and west of Shewa. It was ruled by the Hadiya people, who spoke the Cushitic Hadiyya language. The historical Hadiya area was situated between Kembata, Gamo, and Waj, southwest of Shewa...

, Kafficho, Kambaata, Konta, Kullo, Maji, Mao, some Oromo
Oromo people
The Oromo are an ethnic group found in Ethiopia, northern Kenya, .and parts of Somalia. With 30 million members, they constitute the single largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and approximately 34.49% of the population according to the 2007 census...

 groups, Sheko, Sidama
Sidama people
The Sidama people of southern Ethiopia are an ethnic group whose homeland is in the Sidama Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region of Ethiopia. They number 2,966,474 of whom 149,480 are urban inhabitants, the fifth most populous nation in Ethiopia...

, Welayta
Welayta people
Wolayta is the name of an ethnic group and its former kingdom, located in southern Ethiopia. According to the most recent census , they number 1.7 million people or 2.31 percent of the country's population, of whom 289,707 are urban inhabitants...

, Yem
Yem people
The Yem are an ethnic group living in south-western Ethiopia. They are also called by their neighbors as the Janjero, but the Yem consider this exonym derogatory, since it sounds similar to the Amharic word "zinjero" which means "monkey". Their native language is Yemsa, one of the Omotic languages,...

, Uba and the Zala.

However its value as a famine food
Famine food
A famine food or poverty food is any inexpensive or readily-available foodstuff used to nourish people in times of extreme poverty or starvation, as during a war or famine...

 has fallen due to a number of causes, as detailed in the April 2003 issue of the UN-OCHA Ethiopia unit's Focus on Ethiopia:
Apart from an Enset plant disease epidemic in 1984-85 which wiped out large parts of the plantations and created the green famine, in the past 10 years major factors were recurrent drought and food shortage together with acute land shortage that forced farmers more and more into consumption of immature plants. Hence farmers were overexploiting their Enset reserves thereby causing gradual losses and disappearance of the false banana as an important household food security reserve. Even though not all the plant losses can be attributed to drought and land shortage and hence early consumption of immature crops, estimations go as far as more than 60% of the false banana crop stands have been lost in some areas in SNNPR during the last 10 years. This basically means that a great many people who used to close the food gap with false banana consumption are not able to do so anymore, and lacking a viable alternative, have become food insecure and highly vulnerable to climatic and economic disruptions of their agricultural system.

Taxonomy


The genus Ensete was first described by Paul Fedorowitsch Horaninow (1796-1865) in his Prodromus Monographiae Scitaminarum of 1862 in which he created a single species, Ensete edule. However, the genus did not receive general recognition until 1947 when it was revived by E. E. Cheesman in the first of a series of papers in the Kew Bulletin
Kew Bulletin
Kew Bulletin is a quarterly peer-reviewed scientific journal on plant and fungal taxonomy published by Springer Science+Business Media on behalf of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It was established in 1887...

on the classification of the bananas, with a total of 25 species.

Taxonomically, the genus Ensete has shrunk since Cheesman revived the taxon
Taxon
|thumb|270px|[[African elephants]] form a widely-accepted taxon, the [[genus]] LoxodontaA taxon is a group of organisms, which a taxonomist adjudges to be a unit. Usually a taxon is given a name and a rank, although neither is a requirement...

. Cheesman acknowledged that field study might reveal synonymy
Synonym (taxonomy)
In scientific nomenclature, a synonym is a scientific name that is or was used for a taxon of organisms that also goes by a different scientific name. For example, Linnaeus was the first to give a scientific name to the Norway spruce, which he called Pinus abies...

 and the most recent review of the genus by Simmonds (1960) listed just six. Recently the number has increased to seven as the Flora of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 has, not entirely convincingly, reinstated Ensete wilsonii. There is one species in Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, somewhat resembling E. superbum, that has not been formally described, and possibly other Asian species.

It is possible to separate Ensete into its African and Asian species.

Africa
Ensete gilletii
Ensete homblei
Ensete perrieri - endemic to Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 but intriguingly like the Asian E. glaucum
Ensete ventricosum
Ensete ventricosum
Ensete ventricosum, usually called the False Banana, Ethiopian Banana, or Abyssinian Banana is a plant in the genus Ensete which is related to Bananas. Ensete ventricosum's name was first published 1948 in Kew Bull. 1947, p. 101. Its synonyms include Musa arnoldiana De Wild., Musa ventricosa Welw....

- Enset or "false banana", sometimes used in Ethiopian cuisine
Cuisine of Ethiopia
Ethiopian cuisine and Eritrean cuisine characteristically consist of spicy vegetable and meat dishes, usually in the form of wat , a thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread, which is about 50 centimeters in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour...

 (particularly Gurage
Gurage
Gurage is an ethnic group in Ethiopia. According to the 2007 national census, its population is 1,867,377 people , of whom 792,659 are urban dwellers. This is 2.53% of the total population of Ethiopia, or 7.52% of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region...

 cuisine).


Asia
Ensete glaucum
Ensete glaucum
Ensete glaucum, the Snow Banana, is a larger version of the Abyssinian Banana but not so well known, sometimes called Musa nepalensis or Ensete giganteum, or Ensete wilsonii. It is native to China, Nepal, India, Burma, and Thailand up to 2600-8800ft...

- widespread in Asia from India to Papua New Guinea
Ensete superbum
Ensete superbum
Ensete superbum is a species of banana from India.-Distribution:The plant is well-known from the Western Ghats, Anaimalai Hills, some other South Indian hills in Dindigul and other parts of the peninsular India. It has also been recorded from Jhadol and Ogna forest ranges in Rajastan, North India...

- Western Ghats of India
Ensete wilsonii - Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

, China, but doubtfully distinct from E. glaucum
Ensete sp. "Thailand" - possibly a new species or a disjunct population of E. superbum

See also

  • Banana
    Banana
    Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red....

  • Famine food
    Famine food
    A famine food or poverty food is any inexpensive or readily-available foodstuff used to nourish people in times of extreme poverty or starvation, as during a war or famine...

  • List of Southern African indigenous trees
  • Musa
    Musa (genus)
    Musa is one of three genera in the family Musaceae; it includes bananas and plantains. There are over 50 species of Musa with a broad variety of uses....

  • Musaceae
    Musaceae
    Musaceae is a botanical name for a family of flowering plants. The family is native to the tropics of Africa and Asia. The plants have a large herbaceous growth habit with leaves with overlapping basal sheaths that form a pseudostem making some members appear to be woody trees.The family has been...

  • Musella
    Musella
    Musella is a genus comprising one or two species in the family Musaceae native to southeast Asia, including southwest China , Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar...

  • Plantain
    Plantain
    Plantain is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa. The fruit they produce is generally used for cooking, in contrast to the soft, sweet banana...


External links

(1999): http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~drc/ensete.htm