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Banana is the common name used for herbaceous plants in the genus Musa. Because of their size and structure, bananas are often mistaken for trees, while in fact we prefer to refer to them as "plants" as opposed to using the title "tree". Bananas are cultivated for their fruit which bear the same name, and to a lesser extent for the production of fiber and as ornamental plants. Bananas are of the family Musaceae.

Globally, bananas rank fourth after rice, wheat, and maize in human consumption; they are grown in 130 countries worldwide, more than any other fruit crop. Bananas are native to tropical southeastern Asia but are widely cultivated in many other tropical regions. In popular culture and commerce, "banana" usually refers to the soft fruit, the sweet "dessert" bananas that are usually eaten raw after their ripening. Plantains are the bananas from a group of cultivars with a firmer and starchier fruit. Plantains are generally used in cooking rather than eaten raw. Bananas may also be dried and ground into banana flour. Many other foods are prepared with banana being the main ingredient. See our recipes forum for a list!

The main or upright growth is called a pseudostem, which, when mature, will obtain a height of 2–8 m (varies between different cultivars), with leaves of up to 3.5 m in length. Each pseudostem produces a single bunch of bananas, before dying and being replaced by a new pseudostem. The base of the plant is a rhizome (known as a corm). Corms are perennial, with a productive lifespan of 15 years or more.

The term banana is applied to both the plant and its elongated fruit (technically a false berry) which grow in hanging clusters, with up to 20 fruit to a tier (called a hand), and 5-20 tiers to a bunch. The total of the hanging clusters is known as a bunch, or commercially as a "banana stem", and can weigh from 30–50 kg. The fruit averages 125 g, of which approximately 75% is water and 25% is dry matter content. Bananas are a valuable source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and potassium.

Although the wild species have fruits with numerous large, hard seeds, virtually all culinary bananas have seedless fruits. Bananas are classified either as dessert bananas (meaning they are pink or yellow and fully ripe when eaten) or as green cooking bananas. Almost all export bananas are of the dessert types; however, only about 10-15% of all production is for export, with the U.S. and EU being the dominant buyers.