Why Musella lasiocarpa (Musaceae) is used in Southwest China to Feed Pigs.


This study seeks to understand the usage of Musella lasiocarpa as pig fodder in southwest China by investigating its cultivation, consumption quantities, and nutrient composition. A previous report on the ethnobotany and conservation status of Musella lasiocarpa highlighted the importance of this plant for its multiple uses and services (Liu et al. 2003). The research presented here, which is a follow up effort to the previous study, is a step toward a more comprehensive exploration of the cultivation potential of Musella lasiocarpa for food and fodder in an expanded geographic area. Musella lasiocarpa (Franch.) C. Y. Wu ex H. W. Li (Fig. 1), with synonyms of Musa lasiocarpa Franch. and Ensete lasiocarpum (Franch.) E. E. Cheesman, is a species of a monotypic genus in the Musaceae family. It is endemic to the watersheds of the Upper Yangtze River and its branches between Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in southwest China (Wu and Kress 2000). Wild populations of Musella are found around cliffs in northern Yunnan and southern Sichuan. This plant is adapted to broad ecological conditions; it is able to withstand dry, cold, and mountainous environments. The literature on uses of Musella lasiocarpa focuses on practices by Han Chinese communities and reports that it is primarily used as fodder and, to a lesser extent, in the human diet. Aside from fodder and food, our previous research in the communities of Yunnan’s minority cultural groups shows that Musella is valuable for soil and water erosion control, weaving material, medicine, wine–brewing, and as a source plant for honey during the winter season (Long 1997; Liu et al. 2003). Recently, some horticulturalists from the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, and Japan have taken an interest in the commercial development of this resource as an ornamental. While the chemical composition of Musella previously has been documented (Qin et al. 2000; Yang et al. 2001), no studies have reported on its nutrient content or extent of use. Given this lack of research, coupled with Musella’s extensive use in southwest China and broad ecological adaptation, we investigated its cultivation, quantities consumed as pig fodder, and nutrient composition in order to understand the rationale for its usage and development potential.




Long, Chunlin, Selena Ahmed, Xiaorong Wang, Yitao Liu, Bo Long, Chunyan Yang, Yana Shi, Xingyu Li, and Rong Guo. “Why Musella Lasiocarpa (Musaceae) Is Used in Southwest China to Feed Pigs.” Economic Botany 62, no. 2 (June 2008): 182–186. doi:10.1007/s12231-008-9013-z.
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