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banana,name for several species of the genus Musa and for the fruits these produce. The banana plant—one of the largest herbaceous plants—is native to tropical Asia but now cultivated throughout the tropics. Used to a minor degree for its leaf fiber, the banana is of the same genus as the extremely valuable fiber plant Manila hempManila hemp,
the most important of the cordage fibers. It is obtained chiefly from the Manila hemp plant (Musa textilis) of the family Musaceae (banana family). It is grown mainly in its native Philippine Islands, where it has been cultivated since the 16th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. , or abaca, and is also related to the bird-of-paradise flowerbird-of-paradise flower,
large tropical herb (Strelitzia reginae) of the family Musaceae (banana family), native to S Africa. Its large blue and orange blossom resembles an exotic bird; it is cultivated as an ornamental in warmer regions and as a greenhouse plant, and is
..... Click the link for more information. . Along with the banana, these are economically the most important plants of the banana family (the Musaceae), a group of large monocotyledonous tropical herbs. The banana is of palmlike aspect and has very large leaves, the overlapping bases of which form the so-called false trunk. As the plant reaches maturity its true stem rises from the ground and pushes through the center of the false trunk to emerge from the top of the plant, there becoming pendent and bearing the male and female flowers. The female flowers develop into bananas, the clusters of upturned fruits being called "hands" and each banana a "finger." The plants are cut down to harvest the fruit, since they bear only once. Their seeds are sterile; shoots from the rhizomes are used for propagation. The banana fruit (botanically a berry) is a staple food in the tropics and is used in many forms, raw or cooked, and grown in many varieties; sweeter fruits are often known as bananas, and starchier ones as plantains. Dried bananas are eaten as "banana figs" and inferior fruits serve as a stock feed. Banana oil is a synthetic product, so named because of its odor. Although the banana has long been cultivated in Asia—Alexander the Great encountered it in India—the large international traffic began only in the late 19th cent. with the development of refrigerated transport. Bananas are classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
..... Click the link for more information. , class Liliopsida, order Zingiberales, family Musaceae.
(Musa), a genus of perennial plants of the Musa-ceae family.
The banana is a tall, sometimes giant herb with a large rhizome and a short stalk. Its very large leaves are in sheaths that form a multilayered tube or false trunk. The young leaves and the inflorescence, which resembles an enormous brush, emerge through the false trunk. The flowers are unisexual and bisexual. The fruit is polyspermic, berry-shaped, and thick-skinned. In the cultivated forms the fruit is often seedless (the plants are propagated only vegetatively) and reaches a length of 15 cm and a diameter of 3–4 cm. As many as 300 fruit can develop on one axis; the total amount may weigh 50–60 kg. The aboveground portion of the banana dies after bearing fruit. There are 60–70 species of bananas in the tropics and subtropics of Africa, Asia, and Australia.
The banana is an ancient crop, and for tropical regions it is a most important food plant and a major export item. The most widely found cultivated bananas are the hybrid thermophilic species M. x paradisiaca and M. x sapientum (dessert varieties, or the so-called pisang) as well as the comparatively cold-resistant southern Chinese M. nana (M. cav-endishii). The fruit of the cultivated banana is 40 percent skin and 60 percent starchy, sweet pulp with undeveloped seeds. The pulp of a fresh banana contains 14–22 percent sugars, 5–8 percent starch, and up to 1.5 percent protein. The aroma of the banana depends upon the esters isovaleric-isoamyl and isoamyl acetate. The fruit is eaten fresh and dried, and it can be used to make banana flour, canned goods, jams, syrup, and wine. Some species of banana have fruit with a hard, starchy, sour pulp; they are used basically as livestock feed and are eaten by humans only when they have been fried or boiled. The textile or spinning banana (M. textilis) is grown as an industrial crop. A light, strong fiber called manila hemp (abaca) is obtained from the false trunks of this plant and used to make rope, fishing gear, and other goods. The Japanese banana (M. basjoo) is grown as a decorative plant in the USSR on the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus and the Crimea. The Abyssinian banana (M. ensete) is grown as a food and fiber plant in Africa. This species is now more often put in the genus Ensete (E. ventricosum).
REFERENCESAlekseev, V. P. “Banan.” Biul. Vsesoiuznogo nauchno-issledovatel’skogo instituta chaia i subtropicheskikh kul’tur. 1955, no. 2.
Zhukovskii, P. M. Kul’turnye rasteniia i ikh sorodichi, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1964.
What does it mean when you dream about a banana?
The banana has been seen as a sexual symbol, as in the jest, “Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?” But since the banana is the staple food for monkeys, the dreamer may need to get serious about some situation in which they are “monkeying around.”