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banana

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 hemp, or abaca, and is also related to the bird-of-paradise flower. 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 Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Zingiberales, family Musaceae.

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banana

banana Fruit of the genus Musa; cultivated kinds are sterile hybrids, and so cannot be given species names. Dessert bananas have a high sugar content (17–19%) and are eaten raw; plantains (sometimes known as green bananas) have a higher starch and lower sugar content and are picked when too hard to be eaten raw.

One medium banana (100 g) is a good source of vitamin A; a source of vitamins B6 and C, and copper; contains 0.3 g of fat, of which 33% is saturated; provides 3 g of dietary fibre; supplies 86 kcal (360 kJ). The sodium content is low (1.2 mg/100 g) so bananas are used in low‐sodium diets.

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banana

banana banana republic a small state dependent on foreign capital, typically as a result of the domination of the economy by a single trade, and hence politically unstable; the name was particularly used of Central American states which were heavily dependent on their fruit-exporting trade.
second banana the second most important person in an organization or activity. Originally (mid 20th century), US theatrical slang meaning the supporting comedian in a show. The expression top banana, meaning the most important person in an organization or activity, is of similar origin.

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banana

ba·nan·a / bəˈnanə/ • n. 1. a long curved fruit that grows in clusters and has soft pulpy flesh and yellow skin when ripe. 2. (also banana plant or banana tree) the tropical and subtropical treelike plant (genus Musa, family Musaceae) that bears this fruit, with very large leaves. 3. adj. (bananas) inf. insane or extremely silly: he's beginning to think I'm bananas. PHRASES: top banana inf. the most important person in an organization or activity.

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Musa

Musa (family Musaceae) A genus of giant, rhizomatous (see RHIZOME) herbs which have an erect pseudostem, formed from overlapping leaf bases, and terminal inflorescences. The flowers are unisexual, the males terminal and subtended by coloured bracts. The fruit is an elongate berry with many stony seeds (absent in the edible bananas). Musas are bat-pollinated. Cultivated bananas are hybrids, and triploid or tetraploid (see POLYPLOIDY). There are 35 species, occurring in the palaeotropics.

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banana

banana Long, curved, yellow or reddish fruit of the tree of the same name. It has soft, creamy flesh. A spike of yellow, clustered flowers grows from the centre of the crown of the tree and bends downwards and develops into bunches of 50–150 fruits in ‘hands’ of 10–20. More than 100 varieties are cultivated. Fruits used for cooking are called plantains. Height: 3–9m (10–30ft). Family Musaceae; genus Musa.

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banana

banana XVI. — Pg. — a lang. of W. Africa (Guinea).

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Mūsā

Mūsā (Muslim form of Moses): see MOSES.

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banana

banana See MUSA.

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banana

bananaAlana, Anna, bandanna, banner, Branagh, canna, canner, Diana, fanner, Fermanagh, Guyana, Hannah, Havana, hosanna, Indiana, Joanna, lanner, Louisiana, manna, manner, manor, Montana, nana, planner, Pollyanna, Rosanna, savannah, scanner, spanner, Susanna, tanner •Abner • Jaffna • Patna • caravanner •Africana, Afrikaner, Americana, ana, banana, Botswana, bwana, cabana, caragana, Christiana, Dana, darner, Edwardiana, garner, Georgiana, Ghana, Gloriana, Guiana, gymkhana, Haryana, iguana, Lana, lantana, liana, Lipizzaner, Ljubljana, Mahayana, mana, mañana, marijuana, nirvana, Oriana, pacarana, piranha, prana, Purana, Rosh Hashana, Santayana, Setswana, sultana, Tatiana, Tijuana, Tirana, tramontana, Tswana, varna, Victoriana, zenana •Gardner • partner •antenna, Avicenna, duenna, henna, Jenna, Jenner, Morwenna, Ravenna, senna, Siena, sienna, tenner, tenor, Vienna •Edna • interregna • Etna • Pevsner

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musa

musa (ˈmjuːzə) multiple unit steerable aerial (or antenna)

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Banana

Banana

Biology of bananas

Bananas and people

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Bananas, plantains, and their relatives are various species of plants in the family Musaceae. There are about 40 species in this family, divided among only two genera. The most diverse genus is Musa, containing 35 species of bananas and plantains, followed by Ensete, the Abyssinian bananas. The natural range of bananas and plantains is the tropics and subtropics of the Old World, but agricultural and horticultural species and varieties are now cultivated in suitable climates all over the world.

Biology of bananas

Plants in the banana family are superficially treelike in appearance. However, they are actually tall, erect, perennial herbs, because after they flower and set fruit, they die back to the ground surface. Their perennating structure is a large, underground, branched rhizome or corm.

Bananas and their relatives have a pseudostem, so-called because it has the appearance of a tree trunk. However, the banana stem is actually herbaceous, and is comprised of the densely overlapping sheath and petiole bases of their spirally arranged leaves. The pseudostem contains no woody tissues, but its fibers are very strong and flexible, and can easily support the erect plant, which is among the tallest of any herbaceous plants.

Bananas can grow as tall as 19.7-23 feet (6-7 m), and typically have a crown of leaves at the top of their greenish stem. The leaves of bananas are large and simple, with a petiole, a stout mid-rib, and a long, expanded, roughly oval, leaf blade, which can reach several meters in length. The leaf blade has an entire

(smooth) margin, although it often becomes frayed by the wind, and may develop lobelike ingrowths along its edge.

The flowers of bananas are finger-shaped, with three petals and sepals, and are subtended by large, fleshy, bright reddish-colored scales, which fall off as the fruit matures. The flowers are imperfect (that is, unisexual), and the plants are monoecious, meaning individual plants contain both female and male flowers. The flowers are arranged in a group, in an elongate structure known as a raceme, with male flowers occurring at the tip of the structure, and female flowers below. Only one inflorescence develops per plant. The flowering stalk develops from the underground rhizome or corm, and pushes up through the pseudostem of the plant, to emerge at the apex. The flowering stalk eventually curves downwards, under the weight of the developing fruits. The central axis of the raceme continues to elongate during development, so that older, riper fruits occur lower down, while flowers and younger fruit occur closer to the elongating tip. The same is true of the male flowers, with spent flowers occurring lower down, and pollen-producing ones at the tip of the inflorescence.

The flowers of bananas are strongly scented, and produce large quantities of nectar. These attract birds and bats, which feed on the nectar, and pollinate the flowers. The mature fruits are a type of multi-seeded berry, with a leathery outer coat known as an exocarp, and a fleshy, edible interior with numerous seeds embedded.

Bananas and people

Various species in the banana family are cultivated as agricultural crops, with a world production of about 66 million tons (60 million tonnes). The best-known species is the banana (Musa paradisiaca ; sometimes known as M. sapientum ). The cultivated banana is a sterile triploid, and does not produce viable seeds. This banana is believed to be derived from crosses of Musa acuminata and M. balbisiana, likely occurring in India or Southeast Asia at some prehistoric time. The banana is an ancient fruit, thought to have been cultivated for at least 3,000 years in southern Asia.

Bunches of banana fruits can be quite large, weighing as much as 110 pounds (50 kg). Each bunch consists of clusters of fruits, known as hands; each hand contains 10-20 individual fruits, or fingers. After the fruits of a banana plant are harvested, the plant dies back, or is cut down, and a new stalk regenerates from the same, perennating rhizome or corm.

Bananas intended for export to temperate countries are generally harvested while the fruits are still green. As they ripen, the skin turns yellowish or reddish, depending on the variety. When dark blotches begin to appear on the skin, the fruits are especially tasty and ready for eating. Bananas are a highly nutritious food.

The cultivated banana occurs in hundreds of varieties, or cultivars, which vary greatly in the size, color, and taste of their fruits. The variety most familiar to people living in temperate regions has a rather large, long, yellow fruit. This variety is most commonly exported to temperate countries because it ripens slowly, and travels well without spoiling. However, this variety of banana has proven to be susceptible to a recently emerged, lethal fungal disease. The long, yellow banana will soon be largely replaced in the temperate marketplace by another variety, which has a smaller, reddish, apple-tasting fruit.

Most varieties of the cultivated banana occur in tropical countries, especially in southern Asia, where many may be grown in any particular locality. These varieties range greatly in their size, taste, and other characteristics, some being preferred for eating as a fresh fruit, and others for cooking by frying or baking.

KEY TERMS

Berry A soft, multi-seeded fruit, developed from a single, compound ovary.

Imperfect In the botanical sense, this refers to flowers that are unisexual, containing either male or female reproductive parts, but not both.

Monoecious A plant breeding system in which male and female reproductive structures are present on the same plant, although not necessarily in the same flowers.

Rhizome This is a modified stem that grows horizontally in the soil and from which roots and upward-growing shoots develop at the stem nodes.

Triploid An organism having three sets of chromosomes. In plants, triploids develop from crosses between a diploid parent, having two sets of chromosomes, and a tetraploid parent, with four sets.

Plantains or platanos are a group of about 75 varieties of cultivated bananas that are only eaten after they are cooked or processed into chips or flour. Like bananas, plantains are a highly nutritious food.

Another important economic product is manila hemp or abaca, manufactured from the fibers of the large, sheathing leaf-stalks of the species Musa textilis, as well as from some other species of bananas and plantains. Musa textilis is native to the Philippines and the Moluccas of Southeast Asia, and most manila hemp comes from that general region, although it has also been introduced elsewhere, for example, to Central America. The fibers of manila hemp are tough, flexible, and elastic, and are mostly woven into rope. Because it is resistant to saltwater, this cordage is especially useful on boats and ships, although its use has now been largely supplanted by synthetic materials, such as polypropylene. The fibers of manila hemp can also been woven into a cloth, used to make bags, hats, twine, and other goods.

Bananas are also sometimes cultivated as ornamental plants, in gardens and parks in warm climates, and in greenhouses in cooler climates. Some taxonomic treatments include the genus Strelitzia in the banana family. The best-known species in this group is the bird-of-paradise plant (Strelitzia reginae ), a beautiful and well-known ornamental plant that is cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical climates, and in greenhouses in more temperate places.

In 2005, India was the primary banana-producing country, harvesting almost 17 million metric tons. Brazil was second with 6.7 million tons; and China was third, with 6.4 million tons.

Resources

BOOKS

Soluri, John. Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2006.

Soluri, John. The Biography of Bananas: How Did They Get Here?. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2005.

Bill Freedman

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Banana

Banana

Bananas, plantains, and their relatives are various species of plants in the family Musaceae. There are about 40 species in this family, divided among only two genera. The most diverse genus is Musa, containing 35 species of bananas and plantains, followed by Ensete, the Abyssinian bananas. The natural range of bananas and plantains is the tropics and subtropics of the Old World, but agricultural and horticultural species and varieties are now cultivated in suitable climates all over the world.


Biology of bananas

Plants in the banana family are superficially tree-like in appearance. However, they are actually tall, erect, perennial herbs, because after they flower and set fruit, they die back to the ground surface. Their perennating structure is a large, underground, branched rhizome or corm .

Bananas and their relatives have a pseudostem, socalled because it has the appearance of a tree trunk. However, the banana stem is actually herbaceous, and is comprised of the densely overlapping sheath and petiole bases of their spirally arranged leaves. The pseudostem contains no woody tissues, but its fibers are very strong and flexible, and can easily support the erect plant , which is among the tallest of any herbaceous plants.

Bananas can grow as tall as 19.7-23 ft (6-7 m), and typically have a crown of leaves at the top of their greenish stem. The leaves of bananas are large and simple, with a petiole, a stout mid-rib, and a long, expanded, roughly oval, leaf blade, which can reach several meters in length. The leaf blade has an entire (smooth) margin, although it often becomes frayed by the wind , and may develop lobe-like ingrowths along its edge.

The flowers of bananas are finger-shaped, with three petals and sepals, and are subtended by large, fleshy, bright reddish-colored scales, which fall off as the fruit matures. The flowers are imperfect (that is, unisexual), and the plants are monoecious, meaning individual plants contain both female and male flowers. The flowers are arranged in a group, in an elongate structure known as a raceme, with male flowers occurring at the tip of the structure, and female flowers below. Only one inflorescence develops per plant. The flowering stalk develops from the underground rhizome or corm, and pushes up through the pseudostem of the plant, to emerge at the apex. The flowering stalk eventually curves downwards, under the weight of the developing fruits . The central axis of the raceme continues to elongate during development, so that older, riper fruits occur lower down, while flowers and younger fruit occur closer to the elongating tip. The same is true of the male flowers, with spent flowers occurring lower down, and pollen-producing ones at the tip of the inflorescence.

The flowers of bananas are strongly scented, and produce large quantities of nectar . These attract birds and bats , which feed on the nectar, and pollinate the flowers. The mature fruits are a type of multi-seeded berry, with a leathery outer coat known as an exocarp, and a fleshy, edible interior with numerous seeds embedded.


Bananas and people

Various species in the banana family are cultivated as agricultural crops , with a world production of about 66 million tons (60 million tonnes). The best-known species is the banana (Musa paradisiaca; sometimes known as M. sapientum). The cultivated banana is a sterile triploid, and does not produce viable seeds. This banana is believed to be derived from crosses of Musa acuminata and M. balbisiana, likely occurring in India or Southeast Asia at some prehistoric time. The banana is an ancient fruit, thought to have been cultivated for at least 3,000 years in southern Asia.

Bunches of banana fruits can be quite large, weighing as much as 110 lb (50 kg). Each bunch consists of clusters of fruits, known as hands; each hand contains 10-20 individual fruits, or fingers. After the fruits of a banana plant are harvested, the plant dies back, or is cut down, and a new stalk regenerates from the same, perennating rhizome or corm.

Bananas intended for export to temperate countries are generally harvested while the fruits are still green. As they ripen, the skin turns yellowish or reddish, depending on the variety. When dark blotches begin to appear on the skin, the fruits are especially tasty and ready for eating. Bananas are a highly nutritious food.

The cultivated banana occurs in hundreds of varieties, or cultivars, which vary greatly in the size, color , and taste of their fruits. The variety most familiar to people living in temperate regions has a rather large, long, yellow fruit. This variety is most commonly exported to temperate countries because it ripens slowly, and travels well without spoiling. However, this variety of banana has proven to be susceptible to a recently emerged, lethal fungal disease . The long, yellow banana will soon be largely replaced in the temperate marketplace by another variety, which has a smaller, reddish, apple-tasting fruit.

Most varieties of the cultivated banana occur in tropical countries, especially in southern Asia, where many may be grown in any particular locality. These varieties range greatly in their size, taste, and other characteristics, some being preferred for eating as a fresh fruit, and others for cooking by frying or baking. Plantains or platanos are a group of about 75 varieties of cultivated bananas that are only eaten after they are cooked or processed into chips or flour. Like bananas, plantains are a highly nutritious food.

Another important economic product is manila hemp or abaca, manufactured from the fibers of the large, sheathing leaf-stalks of the species Musa textilis, as well as from some other species of bananas and plantains. Musa textilis is native to the Philippines and the Moluccas of Southeast Asia, and most manila hemp comes from that general region, although it has also been introduced elsewhere, for example, to Central America. The fibers of manila hemp are tough, flexible, and elastic, and are mostly woven into rope. Because it is resistant to salt water , this cordage is especially useful on boats and ships, although its use has now been largely supplanted by synthetic materials, such as polypropylene. The fibers of manila hemp can also been woven into a cloth, used to make bags, hats, twine, and other goods.

Bananas are also sometimes cultivated as ornamental plants, in gardens and parks in warm climates, and in greenhouses in cooler climates. Some taxonomic treatments include the genus Strelitzia in the banana family. The best-known species in this group is the bird-of-paradise plant (Strelitzia reginae), a beautiful and well-known ornamental plant that is cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical climates, and in greenhouses in more temperate places.


Resources

books

Brucher, H. Useful Plants of Neotropical Origin and Their WildRelatives. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1989.

Hvass, E. Plants That Serve and Feed Us. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1975.

Judd, Walter S., Christopher Campbell, Elizabeth A. Kellogg, Michael J. Donoghue, and Peter Stevens. Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach. 2nd ed. with CD-ROM. Suderland, MD: Sinauer, 2002.

Klein, R. M. The Green World. An Introduction to Plants andPeople. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.


Bill Freedman

KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Berry

—A soft, multi-seeded fruit, developed from a single, compound ovary.

Imperfect

—In the botanical sense, this refers to flowers that are unisexual, containing either male or female reproductive parts, but not both.

Monoecious

—A plant breeding system in which male and female reproductive structures are present on the same plant, although not necessarily in the same flowers.

Rhizome

—This is a modified stem that grows horizontally in the soil and from which roots and upward-growing shoots develop at the stem nodes.

Triploid

—An organism having three sets of chromosomes. In plants, triploids develop from crosses between a diploid parent, having two sets of chromosomes, and a tetraploid parent, with four sets.

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"Banana." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/banana-0

"Banana." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Retrieved September 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/banana-0

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Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

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Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
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