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For starchier bananas used in cooking, see Cooking banana. In some countries, bananas used for cooking may be called plantains, in contrast to dessert bananas.
Linnaeus originally placed bananas into two species based only on their uses as food: Musa sapientum for dessert bananas and Musa paradisiaca for plantains.In other regions, such as Southeast Asia, many more kinds of banana are grown and eaten, so the binary distinction is not useful and is not made in local languages.The term "banana" is also used as the common name for the plants that produce the fruit.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.
Cultivated banana plants vary in height depending on the variety and growing conditions.
The fruits grow in clusters hanging from the top of the plant.
Almost all modern edible parthenocarpic (seedless) bananas come from two wild species – Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana.
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.
The old biological name Musa sapientum = "Muse of the wise" arose because of homophony in Latin with the classical Muses. The APG III system assigns Musaceae to the order Zingiberales, part of the commelinid clade of the monocotyledonous flowering plants.
The scientific names of most cultivated bananas are Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana, and Musa × paradisiaca for the hybrid Musa acuminata × M.