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Abstract Detail

Society for Economic Botany/BSA Economic Botany Section

Hazlett, Donald  [1], Torres Herrera, Jennifer C.  [2].

Socioeconomic Value and Growth of Naturalized Musa balbisiana L. A. Colla Leaves in Honduras.

Musa balbisiana (Musaceae) is a diploid, seed-producing banana indigenous to Southeast Asia. After it was introduced into the Lancetilla Experimental Garden in Honduras (ca. 1960s), it became naturalized in nearby second-growth areas of the north coast. Local residents were quick to recognize the socioeconomic value of leaves from this weedy banana as a wrap for traditional Honduran nacatamales. To estimate the monetary value and to provide preliminary data on leaf harvest sustainability a 3 month study (July to September) was undertaken in 2009. For 3 months each of 38 harvesters averaged a weekly sale of 4,400 cut, de-veined and blanched Musa leaves. These sold for Lps. 550.00 (ca. $30.00 US) to truckers, who transported them to major markets to resell at a profit. The number of useful leaves produced by a single Musa plant in 3 months was documented by 2 methods: 1) the traditional way of cutting the entire banana stem to remove leaves and 2) a more careful method of cutting off only the useful leaves. Both methods yielded a total of 6 or 7 useful leaves after 3 months (including the original leave cut at the onset), but the more careful method did yield significantly more immature and larger leaves. A longer study may show an increase in leaf production per plant associated with the more careful leaf harvest method. This is the first estimate of useful leaf production (for nacatamales) from this exotic Musa. No management plans exist for sustainable leaf production from this species since all leaves are currently harvested from wild populations. However, a few land-owners in the Lancetilla area are protecting and charging a fee to harvest Musa leaves. The sale and cultural use of M. balbisiana leaves in Honduras is an example of an exotic species that has positive socioeconomic benefits. This naturalized Musa appears to have few, if any, of the negative impacts typically attributed to exotic plants.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Denver Botanic Gardens, Research, 909 York Street, Denver, CO, 80206, USA
2 - Instituto Nacional de Conservación y Desarollo Forestal, Áreas Protegidas y Vida Silvestre, Región Forestal Pacifico , Tegucigalpa, Francisco Morazan, Honduras

Wild plant use

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 22
Location: Maryland Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011
Time: 4:00 PM
Number: 22002
Abstract ID:139

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