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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Random Things I've Learned about Bananas


I thought I knew some stuff about bananas.  I really did.  It's probably the first fruit I ever ate as a baby, and I have continued to enjoy them my entire life. 

But I have learned some new things about bananas during our time here at the farm.  Things that have surprised even me.


Bananas do not grow on trees.  They are an herb!  Despite their sometimes-ginormous size (some of the plants here are 30' tall!), they are really a perennial herb and their trunk is made up of many leaves tightly wrapped around a single stem which turns into the fruit-bearing flower stalk.

It can take many months for the bunch to ripen, and once the bunch is harvested, the original stem dies.  So how do bananas continue to grow?  Side shoots spring up near the base of the original stem and produce the next generations of fruit.  It can take 12-18 months for these stems to produce fruit.

If you cut a banana (stem or leave stalk), it will drip a clear liquid.  Do not be fooled - this seemingly-benign liquid will change colors as it dries on your clothes, staining them a nice blood-red-brown color.

{Apparently, bananas have blood, too.}

There are over 400 varieties of bananas world-wide, with the American favorite being the yellow Cavendish.  They grow several different varieties on the farm here, and the "apple banana" and "dwarf Cuban reds" are two of my current favorites.

The banana flower was considered to be a phallic symbol in medieval times, and thus bananas were banned from nunneries.

Actually, I made up that last one.  I doubt banana herbs grew in Europe in medieval times.


More than you ever wanted to know about bananas.

You're welcome.


Jess said...

But asparagus (according to Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal Vegetable Miracle) actually was banned from nunneries. ;)

Is it bad that I thought of a "phallic symbol" the moment I saw your photo?

Victoria Strauser said...

I knew there was SOMETHING like that which was banned! And that's funny - I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that!

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