Sunday, September 7, 2008

Banana Tree

Banana Tree
The banana tree is not actually a tree at all, but a herb, a giant herb, and even more extraordinary than the pineapple. It sprouts from a rhizome and can reach a height of nine meters, growing very rapidly, and the process takes only a year. The leaves emerge one above another, passing up through the tube formed by the older leaf stems. When the last has grown, an inflorescence forms at the base of the banana and mounts the stem too, eventually emerging at the axis and drooping towards the ground, Each groups of flower, borne like a crown around the stem, becomes a bunch of ‘hand’ of banana. No fertilization takes place, and the flowers are sterile.

For this reason Buddha made banana plant the symbol of the futility of earthly possessions. Classic Chinese iconography shows him meditating on this key to wisdom at the foot of a banana tree.

A banana plant produces only a bunch or ‘hand’ in its life, but a bunch may comprise from 100 to 400 bananas. Then it dies. The banana plant which comes up next time grows from the rhizome, and plant with pieces of rhizomes or cuttings of spontaneous shoots. The banana looks as if it had landed on earth from another world: a tree which is really a herb, ‘flowers’ and ‘fruit’ which are so called for lack of any real way to define them by normal terrestrial standards.
Banana Tree

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