Banana is the common name for monocarpic flowering plants of the genus Musa, for the species Ensete ventricosum, and for the fruit they produce. They are some of the oldest cultivated plants. Musa species are native to tropical South and Southeast Asia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. Ensete ventricosum is native to northeastern Africa. Today, they are cultivated throughout the tropics. They are grown in at least 107 countries, primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extent to make fiber, banana wine and as ornamental plants. Its fruits, rich in starch, grow in clusters hanging from the top of the plant. They come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red.
Almost all modern edible parthenocarpic bananas come from two wild species – Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. The scientific names of bananas are Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana or hybrids Musa acuminata × balbisiana, depending on their genomic constitution. The old scientific names Musa sapientum and Musa paradisiaca are no longer used.
In popular culture and commerce, "banana" usually refers to soft, sweet, dessert bananas. By contrast, Musa cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit are called plantains or "cooking bananas". The distinction is purely arbitrary and the terms "plantain" and "banana" are sometimes interchangeable depending on their usage.
Famous quotes containing the word banana:
“I never liked bananas much anyway. Two-thirds of the way down even one banana I am willing to concede defeat smilingly and give the rest to the nearest monkey.”
—Robert Benchley (18891945)