Saturday, July 10, 2010

Banana tree

Banana tree
Banana a fruit which belongs to the tropics and has its origin in south east Asia, has achieved a remarkably high level of consumption in temperate countries.

For consumers there, bananas are almost uniform in appearance, being varieties which ship well and look good.

But in the tropical regions where bananas grow there are countless varieties, varying widely in appearance and eating qualities.

There are, moreover, both eating bananas and cooking bananas, usually called PLANTAINS.

The banana plant is a strange growth, which looks like a palm tree, but is not a tree. It is a perennial herb which grows a complete new ‘trunk’ every year, and does back to its roots after it has flowered and fruited.

This is all the more remarkable in that some kinds grow to a height of 12 m (40’).The ‘trunk’ is in fact composed of overlapping bases of leaves wrapped tightly to make a fairly rigid column.

New leaves constantly emerge at the top, forming a crown of leaves which are blown into tattered strips by the wind (a neat evolutionary adaptation to lower their wind resistance, for the ‘ trunk’ is not as strong as a real tree trunk and risks being blown down).

Eventually the flowering stem emerges at the top, bearing a large flower surrounded by red bracts, the whole growth having a strikingly phallic appearance.

The bananas develop some way back from the flowering tip of the stem.

The increasing weight causes the stem to bend over, so that the fruits point upwards. They are arranged in ‘hands’ of ten to twenty bananas set in a double now in a half spiral around the stem. There may be up to fifteen hands in a complete bunch, which can weigh 45 kg (100 lb) or more.
Banana tree

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