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Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. They are native to the tropical region of Southeast Asia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. Today, they are cultivated throughout the tropics.
Banana plants are of the family Musaceae. They are cultivated primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extent for the production of fibre and as ornamental plants. As the banana plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy, they are often mistaken for trees, but their main or upright stem is actually a pseudostem. For some species, this pseudostem can reach a height of up to 2Ð8 m, with leaves of up to 3.5 m in length. Each pseudostem can produce a bunch of green bananas, which when ripened often turn yellow or sometimes red. After bearing fruit, the pseudostem dies and is replaced by another.
The banana fruit grow in hanging clusters, with up to 20 fruit to a tier (called a hand), and 3Ð20 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 30Ð50 kg. The fruit averages 125 g, of which approximately 75% is water and 25% dry matter content. Each individual fruit (known as a banana or 'finger') has a protective outer layer (a peel or skin) with a fleshy edible inner portion. Both skin and inner part can be eaten raw or cooked. Western cultures generally eat the inside raw and throw away the skin while some Asian cultures[which?] generally eat both the skin and inside cooked. The fruit typically has numerous strings (called phloem bundles), which run between the skin and inner part. The inner part of the common yellow dessert variety splits easily lengthwise into three strips. Bananas are a valuable source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium