Banana Tree

Did You Know a Banana Is an Herb?

That's right. Banana (Musa spp.) plants are actually giant herbaceous perennials that grow 10 to 25 feet tall or more. Because they are herbs, they do not have woody stems like trees do. The fruit of the banana plant grows in bunches at the end of the stem, which is composed of overlapping sheaths of leaves that trap rainwater.

Native to Southeast Asia, bananas and their relatives the plantains grow in the tropical regions of the world and are a staple food in parts of Africa and the most of the Caribbean. Some bananas such as plantains, are considered vegetables, but most are what we call fruits.

Plantains are not eaten raw the way bananas are. With the exception of Guineos (Musa sapientium) the smaller green bananas that are edible in their raw state when ripe, the majority of plantains are inedible until cooked, typically boiled, and then fried or pickled. Green bananas and plantains are high in starch. As they ripen to a yellow color, the starch turns to sugar. Some bananas actually turn red in color instead of yellow when ripe.

Both bananas and plantains are low in fat and a good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, and folic acid. The pulp and peel of the ripe banana have anti-microbial properties against certain types of bacteria and some say that the inside of the peel is also good for treating mild cases of sunburn. The sugars in ripe bananas are easily assimilated by the body and provide a quick source of energy--the perfect snack for people on the go.

According to the Environmental Working Group, an organization that investigates potential threats to human health and the environment, bananas are one of five fruits least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue.

Store your banana bunches on this chrome banana holder tree

Recommended reading:

Bananas Cookbook: 101 Recipes with Bananas
Bananas (A Social History of Bananas)
Bananas You Can Grow

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