Bananas & Plantains

Introduction

The banana is an edible fruit produced by several kinds of large herbaceous flowering plants in the genus Musa. Bananas used for cooking are also sometimes called plantains. The banana fruit, which is usually elongated and curved, is variable in size, colour and firmness – with soft flesh covered with a rind which may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe. The fruits grow in clusters hanging from the top of the plant. Almost all modern edible parthenocarpic (seedless) bananas come from two wild species – Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. The word banana is thought to be of West African origin, possibly from the Wolof word banaana.

Musa species are native to tropical Indomalaya and Australia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. They are grown in at least 107 countries, primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extent to make fibre, banana wine and banana beer and as ornamental plants.