Pisang Raja Udang, the legendary banana

Malays are not supposed to eat Pisang Udang. Do you know why? Well, there is a legend behind it.


A cluster of Pisang Udang hanging On the tree
A cluster of Pisang Udang hanging On the tree

A long, long time ago, a prince was badly injured during a battle with another Royal family. He escaped to a jungle and fainted under a banana tree. He woke up the second day and found that he was nursed and cured by a young and pretty maid.He bled a lot until the ground was stained with blood and this maid had saved his life. He thanked her and went back to the palace and  upon learning that the pretty maid who saved his life was a spirit of the banana tree, he rushed back to the site and found that the blood stain was gone and a bunch of blood-red banana left hanging on the tree. The prince went back to his palace and ordered his countrymen not to cut the Pisang Udang trees and the fruits not to be eaten. So, that is why Malays are not supposed to eat this Pisang Udang.

Well, how about Pisang Badad ? It is actually Pisang Udang with skin that turns yellow, not red , when it is ripe.


Left - Pisang Udang Right - Pisang Badan
Left – Pisang Udang/Pisang Raja Udang
Right – Pisang Badad


Now I am coming to the real headache part – IDs of the different varieties of cultivated bananas. Please feel free to correct me. This writer is not a botanist, so making mistakes with ID of the plants is very possible.

After reading a book written by Mr Kueh Hong Siong, I finally come out with something more systematic.

The cultivated and edible bananas In South East Asia are mostly related to the two wild species called Musaacuminata from Malaysia and Musa balbasiana, mostly from India. The genome constitution of each hybrid can be diploid or triploid.Genome derived from Musa acuminata is symbolized by A and from Musa balbasiana symbolized by B.

Basically there are three types of hybrids:

1) Those derived from Musa acuminata :

Genome constitution :

  • diploid (AA) –  Pisang Otel , Pisang Emas
  • triploid(AAA) -These are Musa paradisiaca which include the following varieties:                                       
  • Pisang Berangan, Pisang Embun, Pisang Serandah, Pisang Masak Hijau

2) Those derived from Musa balbisiana which include  triploids (BBB) – Pisang Kapok/Nipah


3) Those which are hybrids between the two wild species and have developed triploid varieties are named as Musasapientum.

Triploids (AAB) –  Pisang Keling, Pisang Seribu, Pisang Raja

Triploids(ABB) –  Pisang Awak, Pisang Kepok(?)


Note that Pisang Raja in West Malaysia may not be the same as Pisang Raja in Sarawak.


Of course, there are more details of the IDs related to those mentioned above. For the time being, these are sufficient for us gardeners. Getting more detailed ID would get us all confused.

So gardeners, start planting some bananas, especially Pisang Kapok, great as cooking banana and Pisang Berangan for dinner or supper.

 Don’t forget to plant Pisang Serandah/kapal in a big pot. In the past, our boat people planted this banana in their boats.


                                                            Happy Gardening !



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