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For the genus to which banana plants belong, see Musa (genus).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.Most are around 5 m (16 ft) tall, with a range from 'Dwarf Cavendish' plants at around 3 m (10 ft) to 'Gros Michel' at 7 m (23 ft) or more.When a banana plant is mature, the corm stops producing new leaves and begins to form a flower spike or inflorescence.Bananas grow in a wide variety of soils, as long as the soil is at least 60 cm deep, has good drainage and is not compacted.
Cultivated banana plants vary in height depending on the variety and growing conditions.
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.
Especially in the Americas and Europe, "banana" usually refers to soft, sweet, dessert bananas, particularly those of the Cavendish group, which are the main exports from banana-growing countries.
By contrast, Musa cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit are called "plantains".