The name was coined by Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, who borrowed the name for the genus from Georg Eberhard Rumphius2 . Linnaeus described the only banana he was familiar with: a specimen cultivated in George Clifford's glasshouse near Haarlem in the Netherlands and famous for being the first banana to flower in Europe. In 1736 Linnaeus, named it Musa Cliffortiana, which is technically a 'pre-Linnean' name. He renamed it Musa paradisiaca, in reference to the forbidden fruit of paradise3 , and published it in the first edition of Species Plantarum, the 1753 publication that marks the boundary between Linnean and pre-Linnean names.
Most authorities (e.g. Kew's World Checlist of Selected Plant Families4 ) give Musa paradisiaca, or Musa x paradisiaca, as an accepted name. The x was added to indicate that the banana Linnaeus described—eventually determined to be a Plantain cultivar—is a hybrid of the wild species Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. All the Latin binomials that had been assigned to similar hybrids are now considered to be synonyms of Musa x paradisiaca, including Musa sapientum, which Linnaeus described in 1758.
Further contributing to the confusion, the Latin names Musa paradisiaca and Musa sapientum have respectively become associated with the English words plantain (when used, erroneously, to mean all types of cooking bananas) and banana (when used, erroneously, to mean all types of dessert bananas) , a practice criticized by Ernest E. Cheesman, a British botanist who advocated abandoning Latin binomials for edible bananas5 .
Banana cultivar checklist of local names and synonyms