The banana is the fruit of a large, herbaceous plant, closely related to the plantain, and cultivated in most tropical countries for its fruit, which grows in clusters of more than a hundred finger-shaped berries, upon a very large spike, or stem. When ripe, the rind encloses a nutritious and seedless pulp, which forms the principal article of diet of the natives, and is largely exported to cooler climates.

The United States imported 15,000,000 bunches during the year 1897, valued at $20,000,000.

Bananas are very nutritious, a pound of good, ripe bananas being almost equal in nutriment to a pound of beefsteak. Bananas contain about five per cent. of albuminous elements, and twenty per cent. of carbonaceous.

The banana can be dried and made into flour; in this form, it has about twenty per cent. of albumen. The ripe banana contains only a small percentage of starch, and that is very easy of digestion. The unripe banana contains more starch, and should be cooked before being eaten.