A banana is an edible fruit – botanically a berry – produced by several kinds of large herbaceous flowering plants in the genus Musa. In some countries, bananas used for cooking may be called plantains, distinguishing them from dessert bananas. The fruits grow in clusters hanging from the top of the plant. Almost all modern edible seedless (parthenocarp) bananas come from two wild species – Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. The scientific names of most cultivated bananas are Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana, and Musa × paradisiaca for the hybrid Musa acuminata × M. balbisiana, depending on their genomicconstitution. The old scientific name Musa sapientum is no longer used.
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 135 countries, primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extent to make fiber, banana wine, and banana beer and as ornamental plants.
The term "banana" is also used as the common name for the plants that produce the fruit. This can extend to other members of the genus Musa, such as the scarlet banana (Musa coccinea), the pink banana (Musa velutina), and the Fe'i bananas. It can also refer to members of the genus Ensete, such as the snow banana (Ensete glaucum) and the economically important false banana (Ensete ventricosum). Both genera are in the banana family, Musaceae.
The banana is variable in size, color, and firmness, but is usually elongated and curved, with soft flesh rich in starch covered with a rind, which may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe.
The flower of a banana is a banana heart. A banana heart is either maroon, purple or pink in colour.
Banana hearts are used as a vegetable in South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine, either raw or steamed with dips or cooked in soups, curries and fried foods.The flavor resembles that of artichoke. As with artichokes, both the fleshy part of the bracts and the heart are edible.
In 2016, world production of bananas and plantains was 148 million tonnes, led by India and China with a combined total (only for bananas) of 28% of global production (table). Other major producers were the Philippines, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Brazil, together accounting for 20% of the world total of bananas and plantains (table).