The word banana comes from the Greek πλατανος (bananas) through the Latin platanus. The root πλατος (plates = plane, width) refers to the width of its leaves. Banana is also called other plant species that, being very different, share the common characteristic of the width and flatness of their leaves.
The word musa comes from the Arabic موزة (mawza, pronounced mūza) that Latin transliterates as a muse. The Encyclopedia of Avicenna The canon of medicine refers to the fruit with this word as early as the 11th century. The plants of this genus, originating in Southeast Asia, were introduced in Europe (and later in America) through North Africa, most probably by Arab-speaking merchants. They were initially also given this name in European languages. Linnaeus (1707-1778) adopts it as a scientific name in his book Species Plantarum, published in 1753.
The word banana also comes from the Arabic بنانة (banānah) plural collective meaning fingers. A bunch of bananas is called a hand in many places, and by the same analogy it is said in Arabic بنانة الموز (banānat al-mawz), which would literally be a banana finger, to refer to each of the pods. By metonymy, banana happens to mean the fruit itself, initially in West Africa (Wolof) and Central (Bantu), from where it travels to the Canary Islands, and from there to America.
Thus, plantain refers initially to the plant, muse to the genus, and banana to the fruit. However, there are different local uses of these terms in the different Spanish-speaking countries.
This group of vegetables forms the most consumed intertropical fruit in the world. It grows in clusters of up to 400 units and 50 kg of weight.
The production volume of bananas and plantains is only surpassed by wheat (Triticum spp.), rice (Oryza sativa) and corn (Zea mays).
Banana is not a tree, but a perennial herb of great size. Like the other Musa species, it lacks a true trunk. Instead, it has leaf sheaths that develop forming structures called pseudostems, similar to vertical stems up to 30 cm in basal diameter that are not woody, and reach 7 m in height.
Banana leaves are among the largest in the plant kingdom. They unfold until reaching 3m long and 60cm wide.
The modern banana is a crop, probably originally from the Indomalaya region. From Indonesia they spread south and west, reaching Hawaii and Polynesia by stages. European merchants brought news of the tree to Europe around the 3rd century BC but did not introduce it until the tenth century. From the plantations of West Africa, Portuguese colonisers took it to South America in the sixteenth century.