Tree-like plant forming clumps, the false stems blotched brown or black. Leaves waxy blue-green, the leaf sheath with a papery margin about 1 cm wide. Flower clusters pendulous, the bud at the tip pear-shaped. Bracts usually purplish, curling backwards. Flowers creamy to yellow, the free segment with the tip turned inwards. Fruit the familiar yellow banana when mature, usually with a pale yellow pulp.
Thailand to Northern Australia
A variable species that, through triploid cultivars of hybrids such as M. ×paradisiaca L., Plantain, and M. ×sapientum L. has given rise to most of the commercial edible bananas.
After citrus the banana is the most important fruit in world trade. The commercial banana originated in SE Asia, probably from around Malaya although there were thought to be several sources. They are known to have been cultivated for over 4000 years and are now in most tropical and subtropical regions. In Australia by 1867 early plantations were established at Buderim, Gladstone, Rockhampton and Bowen. Later, plantations were established in North Queensland, and at the Sunshine Coast in southern Queensland, in New South Wales from Tweed Heads to Coffs Harbour. Western Australia produces bananas at Carnarvon and Kununurra and the Northern Territory at Darwin and Katherine. Disease has devastated plantations on several occasions, the production centres moving regularly. At present the north Queensland market near Innisfail and Tully is the largest domestic market. Commercial plants are mostly triploids and do not produce fertile seed. Once a bunch of bananas has formed on a false stem, the stem dies and further bunches are produced from successive suckers, a process called 'ratooning'.
The most widely grown cultivars in Australia at present are: 'Williams', 'Mons Mari', 'Chinese Cavendish' and 'Lady Finger'. In lesser numbers are: 'Blue Java', 'Bluggoe', 'Ducasses', 'Grande Naine', 'Pacific Plantain' and 'Red Dacca'.
Source: (2005). Musaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 5. Flowering plants. Monocotyledons. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.