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Bananas and Plantains

How is a banana tree not a tree?


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November 18, 2010 7:46AM

The banana is not a tree, it is the largest herbacious flowering plant of the genus Musa. The main stem is a pseudostem, growing 20 to 25 feet tall and produces a single bunch of bananas. After fruiting the stem dies.

Bananas are herbs

Although referred to as banana trees, they are not trees at all but a perennial herb. Its trunk is not a true one, but many leaves tightly wrapped around a single stem which emerges at the top as the fruit-bearing flower stalk.

The fruit fingers grow in clumps known as hands,since they resemble a hand with fingers. The entire stalk, known as a bunch, takes up to a year for the fruit to ripen enough to be harvested. The original stem dies after producing fruit, but sideshoots rise from the same underground corm to produce a new plant to be harvested the following year. The fruit itself is sterile, unable to produce a plant from the miniscule dark seeds within.

Some banana trees continue producing up to one hundred years, although most banana plantations renew their stock every ten to twenty-five years.