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Purple leafed tree with fruit-forming branches. The fruit is globose and somewhat flattened, dark purplish and somewhat shiny when ripe. The skin is thick and fleshy, and is pale purple when it is young and turns to a bright deep purple as it ages, often acquiring a purplish-black color with age. Very large fruits may weigh or more and in diameter. The fruit is eaten fresh or cooked and dried. The fruit contains about 50% to 75% of water. In some parts of Southeast Asia, the unripe fruit is edible and often dried for use.
Cultivation and uses
The banana is a major fruit crop, in tropical and subtropical regions, and an important food crop in India and China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and various parts of Africa. The fruit is mainly known by its English name, banana. In Brazil, the word catinga or cateca is used in the northeast of the country, where the banana was cultivated earlier and where the tree still grows.
The most common cultivar is Cavendish. Other cultivars such as 'Gros Michel' and 'Lady Finger' are still in use and are found in parts of the world that were previously colonized by the former, both are used for making flour, jam and pastry, as well as for banana beer. The banana is usually propagated from large seed bunches planted on the soil.
Banana plants prefer to grow on moist ground in hot, humid climates. The best cultivars are very long-lived and rarely lose their leaves. Once they reach a sufficient size, they are usually planted directly in the ground.
The bananas' strong roots are also used for supporting houses. The banana is also commonly used as a rootstock when other trees are planted in large numbers, for example in Christmas tree plantations in Thailand.
Banana cultivars are affected by the Banana streak virus, a plant virus.
Many species of wild relatives of the banana also play an important role in maintaining the balance of ecosystem, these include Musa balbisiana, Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana balbisiana, Musa acuminata burmanicana, Musa acuminata sylvestris, Musa balbisiana x balbisiana, Musa acuminata harrisoniana, Musa acuminata pentaphylla, Musa balbisiana keniensis, and Musa acuminata roripartita.
The banana is an important food crop. It has an estimated value of US$2 billion worldwide. In Africa, bananas are considered the staple crop for millions of people. In East Africa alone, banana farming accounts for more than 90% of vegetable farming.
The banana tree is widely cultivated in tropical climates, where it is one of the most productive vegetables. Its leaves are used for basket-making, floor mats, ropes, baskets, and roofing material. Its fruits are eaten as a vegetable, fruit, or snack food, and its leaves are smoked as a delicacy. The leaves of cultivated trees have a high sugar content, high dietary fiber content, and good taste. It is very productive, growing rapidly for the first two years. It has been cultivated for 3,000 years.
The banana (as a tree) is a descendant of the extinct species Musa cavendishii, which was a banana-like, fruit-bearing plant. It is thought that the banana was first domesticated in south China. Cultivation of the banana spread from south China to India and then further westward into Southeast Asia and South America. The banana was introduced to the Caribbean and South America by early settlers and to Africa by the Portuguese and Dutch. The banana was introduced to the United States during the 18th century, when enslaved Africans brought it to Jamaica and Mexico. By the early 19th century, the plant had become established in Florida and parts of the Midwest.It was introduced to California and Oregon in the 1860s, to Arizona in the 1880s, and to Hawaii and the continental United States in the 1890s. In the United States, bananas were first planted commercially in West Virginia in 1911.
Origin and domestication
A wild, herbaceous or perennial herb of the grass family, Musa acuminata is native to tropical regions around the equator of both the Old World and New World. The bananas were domesticated over 3,000 years ago in southern China, where they were first cultivated in the low-lying Yangtze River delta. They were widely grown along canals and rivers, and the fruits were transported long distances for sale.
In contrast to other fruits, bananas have no seed, which means they are propagated through stem cuttings. Cultivation of bananas required careful monitoring of day length, rainfall and temperature. The banana is now cultivated widely around the world in tropical and subtropical climates, with annual global production exceeding 400 ,million tons.
The fruit consists of one or more swollen, ovoid to oblong, fruit. The unripe fruit (called the plantain) is similar in appearance to the familiar English dessert banana, although it is smaller, more slender, and more elongated. It is greenish, speckled or striped with yellow, green or brown, and has a long, tough, spongy or fibrous skin. After ripening, it becomes dark purple, black, green or yellow in color, with a soft, spongy or fibrous pulp that is usually golden or purplish in colour. When bruised, it has a characteristic odor reminiscent of rotting meat.
The banana is one of the world's oldest cultivated fruits. The earliest banana specimens, similar to modern plants, were discovered in the tropical rainforests of southern China in 1929. Ancient bananas were probably a natural hybrid of plantains and a wild, long-spiked plant called Musa acuminata or Musa balbisiana.Cultivated bananas originated in South Asia, where they first grew in the low-lying areas of the banks of rivers and canals. Ancient bananas are also native to Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, and other parts of the world, where they were domesticated, or are presumed to have been, in the course of prehistory.
The botanical term Musa sapientum refers to the banana and to other plants, such as sugarcane, that have been artificially selected for specific morphological features, either to serve as food or to serve as sources of valuable chemicals or pharmaceuticals.
The name of the banana in Spanish is banano (banana) and this word is also used in the Philippines, Panama and other Spanish-speaking countries.
In Portuguese, it is banana (banana), and the fruit is known in French as banane (banana), Spanish and Italian as banana (banana), or, simply, "banana" (banana).
In Greek, it is φαμός (phammos, "plant"), and in French and German it is feuille-banane (feuille is "leaf").
The word "banana" may also refer to the edible yellow-skinned part of the fruit.
Most of the modern bananas are hybrids of one or more species of Musa or Musa acuminata, including the banana (Musa acuminata), Cavendish or 'Gros Michel' banana (Musa acuminate ssp. sapientum