Bananas are a versatile plant in any landscape and can add a lush, tropical look to any area. Although everyone knows the fruit, few people have experience growing the plant. Banana leaves, pseudostem (trunk) and fruiting stem (raceme) grow from the underground rhizome (or pseudobulb’s) top surface and the roots grow from the lower surface of the rhizome. The fleshy stems sheathed with huge broad leaves can grow from 2 to 35 feet in as little as 1 year, depending on the variety and growing environment. Each pseudostem produces one flower cluster, which develops fruit, then dies. In addition, each parent banana plant during its life cycle will produce as many as 10 suckers which grow into new plants. New pseudostems then grow from the rhizome. Bananas grow best in a uniformly warm environment and need 9 to 15 months of frost-free conditions to produce a flower stalk. In the subtropics, fruit ripens in 2-3 months. In cooler climates it may take several weeks longer to ripen. Plant growth stops when temperatures drop to 57°F.
- The scientific name for banana is musa sapientum, which means “fruit of the wise men.”
- Bananas float in water, as do apples and watermelons.
- Hawaii is the only place in the U.S. where bananas are grown commercially.
- The type of banana you see in the supermarket is called a Cavendish banana.
- Some cultures (most notably Japan) use the fiber in the banana plant to make fabric and sometimes even paper.
- The fastest marathon ever run by a competitor dressed as a fruit was 2 hours, 58 minutes, and 20 seconds—recorded at the Barcelona Marathon on March 6, 2011. The runner was Patrick Wightman from the United Kingdom, who dressed as a banana.
- The Banana Club Museum, located Mecca, Calif., houses the world’s largest collection devoted to any one fruit. It contains more than 17,000 banana items, most of which have been donated by members.
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