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 names of bananas are Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana or hybrids Musa acuminata x balbisiana, depending on their genomic constitution. The old scientific names Musa sapientum and Musa paradisiaca are no longer used.
Banana is also used to describe Enset and Fe’i bananas, neither of which belong to the Musa genus. Enset bananas belong to the genus Ensete while the taxonomy of Fe’i-type cultivars is uncertain.
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.