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Musa acuminata (banana)

Widely cultivated for its delicious fruits, banana is one of the most economically important crops in the world.
Musa acuminata
Musa acuminata (Photo: Ahmad Fuad Morad)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Musa acuminata Colla

Common name: 

banana, dwarf banana

Conservation status: 

Widespread in cultivation.


Banana grows well in warm, humid tropical and subtropical climates. It prefers well-drained, moist soil and can grow on a range of different soil types including sandy, loamy and clay soils.

Key Uses: 

Food, building materials, fibre.


Genus: Musa

About this species

Musa acuminata is the wild ancestor of the cultivated banana. Thousands of years of domestication have produced a delicious edible fruit consumed by millions of people throughout the world. The yellow variety known as the Cavendish, which populates supermarket shelves, represents just a small proportion of global production.

The diversity within banana is huge ranging from sweet to savoury, bent to straight and varying in colour from green, yellow, pink, silvery or even striped and spotted. The fruits of the banana contain high levels of minerals such as phosphorus, calcium and potassium as well as vitamins A and C. Their high carbohydrate content makes them a favourite with sports people while the potassium they contain helps in avoiding muscle cramp.

The majority of dessert bananas eaten today derive from Musa acuminata and are mainly eaten raw. Plantains which are more starchy and less sweet are a hybrid between Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana are usually cooked and eaten as a vegetable. Morphologically wild banana is very different to its cultivar.

The wild species contains seeds, while cultivated bananas are almost always seedless (parthenocarpic) and are therefore sterile and dependent on vegetative propagation by means of corms. For this reason, they lack genetic diversity and are therefore susceptible to pests and diseases.

Bananas are extremely versatile and beyond their use as food for humans, they provide shelter, building materials and fibre among other things, and are even used by some in rituals and religious ceremonies.


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