What do you know about bananas?
Oh, you know, it’s yellow fruit…
But, did you know that the banana isn’t actually a fruit?
It’s a herb, the biggest variety of herb on the planet.
The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant. The plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy and are often mistaken for trees, but their main or upright stem is actually a pseudostem that grows 6 to 7.6 metres (20 to 24.9 ft) tall, growing from a corm. Each pseudostem can produce a single bunch of bananas. After fruiting, the pseudostem dies, but offshoots may develop from the base of the plant.
So, now you know that banana tress are not banana trees, they are actually a herb called Musa.
The banana that you are most familiar with is the Cavendish (above), which appeared about 1960s after a fungus that attacks the roots appeared and killed off many plantations of Gros Michel (or Big Mike). You see bananas are not supposed to grow in plantations, but man of course doesn’t recognise these little nuances of Mother Nature; you grow bananas in a plantation and it makes it easy for the crop to be wiped out. Bananas are best grown in individual clumps, away from other clumps, this protects them from the spread of disease.
Pity about the Gros Michel, apparently it was a much better tasting banana than the Cavendish.
How many other varieties of bananas exist?
Lots, in fact there are about 1,200 varieties of bananas and some of them aren’t actually bananas. There are ensets, plantains and many different cultivars.
You can check out this useful link on ChowHound to find out about various cultivars and their uses.