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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 plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant. The base of the petiole widens to form a sheath; the tightly packed sheaths make up the pseudostem, which is all that supports the plant. The edges of the sheath meet when it is first produced, making it tubular.

As new growth occurs in the centre of the pseudostem the edges are forced apart. When a banana plant is mature, the corm stops producing new leaves and begins to form a flower spike or inflorescence. A stem develops which grows up inside the pseudostem, carrying the immature inflorescence until eventually it emerges at the top.

More are sometimes produced; an exceptional plant in the Philippines produced five. In the plantation system of cultivation, only one of the offshoots will be allowed to develop in order to maintain spacing.

The female flowers which can develop into fruit appear in rows further up the stem closer to the leaves from the rows of male flowers. The ovary is inferior , meaning that the tiny petals and other flower parts appear at the tip of the ovary.

The banana fruits develop from the banana heart, in a large hanging cluster, made up of tiers called "hands" , with up to 20 fruit to a tier. Individual banana fruits commonly known as a banana or "finger" average grams 0. The fruit has been described as a "leathery berry". The inner part of the common yellow dessert variety can be split lengthwise into three sections that correspond to the inner portions of the three carpels by manually deforming the unopened fruit.

Bananas are naturally slightly radioactive , [21] more so than most other fruits, because of their potassium content and the small amounts of the isotope potassium found in naturally occurring potassium.

The word banana is thought to be of West African origin, possibly from the Wolof word banaana , and passed into English via Spanish or Portuguese. The genus Musa was created by Carl Linnaeus in Musa is in the family Musaceae.

The classification of cultivated bananas has long been a problematic issue for taxonomists. Linnaeus originally placed bananas into two species based only on their uses as food: Musa sapientum for dessert bananas and Musa paradisiaca for plantains.

More species names were added, but this approach proved to be inadequate for the number of cultivars in the primary center of diversity of the genus, Southeast Asia. Many of these cultivars were given names that were later discovered to be synonyms. In a series of papers published from onwards, Ernest Cheesman showed that Linnaeus's Musa sapientum and Musa paradisiaca were cultivars and descendants of two wild seed-producing species, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana , both first described by Luigi Aloysius Colla.

This system eliminated almost all the difficulties and inconsistencies of the earlier classification of bananas based on assigning scientific names to cultivated varieties. Despite this, the original names are still recognized by some authorities today, leading to confusion.

Generally, modern classifications of banana cultivars follow Simmonds and Shepherd's system. Cultivars are placed in groups based on the number of chromosomes they have and which species they are derived from. For a list of the cultivars classified under this system, see " List of banana cultivars ". In , a team of scientists announced they had achieved a draft sequence of the genome of Musa acuminata.

In regions such as North America and Europe, Musa fruits offered for sale can be divided into "bananas" and " plantains ", based on their intended use as food. Thus the banana producer and distributor Chiquita produces publicity material for the American market which says that "a plantain is not a banana".

The stated differences are that plantains are more starchy and less sweet; they are eaten cooked rather than raw; they have thicker skin, which may be green, yellow or black; and they can be used at any stage of ripeness. They are described by Ploetz et al. An alternative approach divides bananas into dessert bananas and cooking bananas, with plantains being one of the subgroups of cooking bananas.

A study of these cultivars showed that they could be placed into at least three groups based on their characteristics: In Southeast Asia — the center of diversity for bananas, both wild and cultivated — the distinction between "bananas" and "plantains" does not work, according to Valmayor et al.

Many bananas are used both raw and cooked. There are starchy cooking bananas which are smaller than those eaten raw. The range of colors, sizes and shapes is far wider than in those grown or sold in Africa, Europe or the Americas. Thus both Cavendish cultivars , the classic yellow dessert bananas, and Saba cultivars , used mainly for cooking, are called pisang in Malaysia and Indonesia , kluai in Thailand and chuoi in Vietnam. Most Fe'i bananas are cooked, but Karat bananas , which are short and squat with bright red skins, very different from the usual yellow dessert bananas, are eaten raw.

In summary, in commerce in Europe and the Americas although not in small-scale cultivation , it is possible to distinguish between "bananas", which are eaten raw, and "plantains", which are cooked. In other regions of the world, particularly India, Southeast Asia and the islands of the Pacific, there are many more kinds of banana and the two-fold distinction is not useful and not made in local languages.

Plantains are one of many kinds of cooking bananas, which are not always distinct from dessert bananas. Southeast Asia is the region of primary diversity of the banana. Areas of secondary diversity are found in Africa , indicating a long history of banana cultivation in the region. Phytolith discoveries in Cameroon dating to the first millennium BCE [46] triggered an as yet unresolved debate about the date of first cultivation in Africa.

There is linguistic evidence that bananas were known in Madagascar around that time. The banana may also have been present in isolated locations elsewhere in the Middle East on the eve of Islam. The spread of Islam was followed by far-reaching diffusion.

There are numerous references to it in Islamic texts such as poems and hadiths beginning in the 9th century.

By the 10th century the banana appears in texts from Palestine and Egypt. From there it diffused into North Africa and Muslim Iberia. During the medieval ages, bananas from Granada were considered among the best in the Arab world.

Today, banana consumption increases significantly in Islamic countries during Ramadan , the month of daylight fasting. Bananas were certainly grown in the Christian Kingdom of Cyprus by the late medieval period. Bananas were introduced to the Americas by Portuguese sailors who brought the fruits from West Africa in the 16th century. Many wild banana species as well as cultivars exist in extraordinary diversity in India , China , and Southeast Asia.

There are fuzzy bananas whose skins are bubblegum pink ; green-and-white striped bananas with pulp the color of orange sherbet; bananas that, when cooked, taste like strawberries.

The Double Mahoi plant can produce two bunches at once. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese colonists started banana plantations in the Atlantic Islands, Brazil , and western Africa. The earliest modern plantations originated in Jamaica and the related Western Caribbean Zone , including most of Central America. It involved the combination of modern transportation networks of steamships and railroads with the development of refrigeration that allowed more time between harvesting and ripening.

Keith also participated, eventually culminating in the multi-national giant corporations like today's Chiquita Brands International and Dole. Their political maneuvers, which gave rise to the term Banana republic for states like Honduras and Guatemala, included working with local elites and their rivalries to influence politics or playing the international interests of the United States, especially during the Cold War , to keep the political climate favorable to their interests.

The vast majority of the world's bananas today are cultivated for family consumption or for sale on local markets. India is the world leader in this sort of production, but many other Asian and African countries where climate and soil conditions allow cultivation also host large populations of banana growers who sell at least some of their crop.

Peasant sector banana growers produce for the world market in the Caribbean, however. The Windward Islands are notable for the growing, largely of Cavendish bananas, for an international market, generally in Europe but also in North America. In the Caribbean, and especially in Dominica where this sort of cultivation is widespread, holdings are in the 1—2 acre range. In many cases the farmer earns additional money from other crops, from engaging in labor outside the farm, and from a share of the earnings of relatives living overseas.

Banana crops are vulnerable to destruction by high winds, such as tropical storms or cyclones. All widely cultivated bananas today descend from the two wild bananas Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana.

While the original wild bananas contained large seeds, diploid or polyploid cultivars some being hybrids with tiny seeds are preferred for human raw fruit consumption. The plant is allowed to produce two shoots at a time; a larger one for immediate fruiting and a smaller "sucker" or "follower" to produce fruit in 6—8 months.

As a non-seasonal crop, bananas are available fresh year-round. In global commerce in , by far the most important cultivars belonged to the triploid AAA group of Musa acuminata , commonly referred to as Cavendish group bananas. They accounted for the majority of banana exports, [59] despite only coming into existence in Even though it is no longer viable for large scale cultivation, Gros Michel is not extinct and is still grown in areas where Panama disease is not found.

It is unclear if any existing cultivar can replace Cavendish bananas, so various hybridisation and genetic engineering programs are attempting to create a disease-resistant, mass-market banana. Export bananas are picked green, and ripen in special rooms upon arrival in the destination country. These rooms are air-tight and filled with ethylene gas to induce ripening. The vivid yellow color consumers normally associate with supermarket bananas is, in fact, caused by the artificial ripening process.

Bananas are refrigerated to between At lower temperatures, ripening permanently stalls, and the bananas turn gray as cell walls break down. Bananas can be ordered by the retailer "ungassed" i. Guineos verdes green bananas that have not been gassed will never fully ripen before becoming rotten.

Instead of fresh eating, these bananas can be used for cooking, as seen in Jamaican cuisine. A study reported that ripe bananas fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light. This property is attributed to the degradation of chlorophyll leading to the accumulation of a fluorescent product in the skin of the fruit. The chlorophyll breakdown product is stabilized by a propionate ester group. Banana-plant leaves also fluoresce in the same way. Green bananas do not fluoresce.

The study suggested that this allows animals which can see light in the ultraviolet spectrum tetrachromats and pentachromats to more easily detect ripened bananas. Bananas must be transported over long distances from the tropics to world markets. The fruit requires careful handling, rapid transport to ports, cooling, and refrigerated shipping.

The goal is to prevent the bananas from producing their natural ripening agent, ethylene. After a few days, the fruit begins to ripen and is distributed for final sale. Ripe bananas can be held for a few days at home. If bananas are too green, they can be put in a brown paper bag with an apple or tomato overnight to speed up the ripening process. Carbon dioxide which bananas produce and ethylene absorbents extend fruit life even at high temperatures.

This effect can be exploited by packing banana in a polyethylene bag and including an ethylene absorbent, e. The bag is then sealed with a band or string. This treatment has been shown to more than double lifespans up to 3—4 weeks without the need for refrigeration. As reported for , total world exports were 20 million tonnes of bananas and , tonnes of plantains. Bananas and plantains constitute a major staple food crop for millions of people in developing countries. Most producers are small-scale farmers either for home consumption or local markets.

Bananas and plantains are important for global food security. While in no danger of outright extinction, the most common edible banana cultivar Cavendish extremely popular in Europe and the Americas could become unviable for large-scale cultivation in the next 10—20 years. Its predecessor ' Gros Michel ', discovered in the s, suffered this fate.

Like almost all bananas, Cavendish lacks genetic diversity, which makes it vulnerable to diseases, threatening both commercial cultivation and small-scale subsistence farming. Panama disease is caused by a fusarium soil fungus Race 1 , which enters the plants through the roots and travels with water into the trunk and leaves, producing gels and gums that cut off the flow of water and nutrients, causing the plant to wilt , and exposing the rest of the plant to lethal amounts of sunlight.

Prior to , almost all commercial banana production centered on "Gros Michel", which was highly susceptible. However, more care is required for shipping the Cavendish, [ citation needed ] and its quality compared to Gros Michel is debated. According to current sources, a deadly form of Panama disease is infecting Cavendish.

All plants are genetically identical, which prevents evolution of disease resistance. Researchers are examining hundreds of wild varieties for resistance. Tropical race 4 TR4 , a reinvigorated strain of Panama disease, was first discovered in This virulent form of fusarium wilt has wiped out Cavendish in several southeast Asian countries and has recently spread to Australia, India and Mozambique. This is how TR4 travels and will be its most likely route into Latin America. Cavendish is highly susceptible to TR4, and over time Cavendish will almost certainly be eliminated from commercial production by this disease.

This is conferred either by RGA2, a gene isolated from a TR4-resistant diploid banana, or by the nematode-derived Ced9. Please complete your registration to get full access to our site! Go to Registration Page. FashionGo Style Match close. Please use one of the following browsers to fully enjoy the function. Your session is expired.

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