Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red.
Almost all modern edible parthenocarpic bananas come from the two wild species Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. The scientific name of banana is Musa acuminata,
Banana is also used to describe the edible fruits of the Fe\'i bananas and Ensete, neither of which properly belong to the Musa genus.
In popular culture and commerce, \"banana\" usually refers to soft, sweet \"dessert\" bananas. By contrast, Musa cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit are called plantains. The distinction is purely arbitrary and the terms \'plantain\' and \'banana\' are sometimes interchangeable depending on their usage.
They are native to tropical South and Southeast Asia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. 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.
The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant.The plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy and are often mistaken for trees, but their main or upright stem is actually a pseudostem that grows 6 to 7.6 metres (20 to 24.9 ft) tall, growing from a corm. Each pseudostem can produce a single bunch of bananas. After fruiting, the pseudostem dies, but offshoots may develop from the base of the plant. Many varieties of bananas are perennial.
In global commerce, by far the most important cultivars belong to the triploid AAA group of Musa acuminata, commonly referred to as Cavendish group bananas. They account for the majority of banana exports.The cultivars Dwarf Cavendish and Grand Nain (Chiquita Banana) gained popularity in the 1950s after the previous mass-produced cultivar, Gros Michel (also an AAA group cultivar), became commercially unviable due to Panama disease, a fungus which attacks the roots of the banana plant.
Ease of transport and shelf life rather than superior taste make the Dwarf Cavendish the most popular among various species of banana.