Tuesday, May 9, 2017
The Banana - 'Musa acuminata' - fam: Musaceae
The Banana is an edible fruit, (although it has been suggested that it is a Herb), – botanically a berry – produced by several kinds of large herbaceous flowering plants in the genus Musa. The banana family of plants (order Zingiberales), consisting of 2 genera, Musa and Ensete, has about 50 species native to Africa, Asia, and Australia. In some countries, bananas used for cooking may be called plantains, in contrast to dessert bananas. The fruit is variable in size, color and firmness, but is usually elongated and curved, with soft flesh rich in starch covered with a rind which may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe. The fruits grow in clusters hanging from the top of the plant. Almost all modern edible parthenocarpic (seedless) bananas come from two wild species – Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. The scientific names of most cultivated bananas are Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana, and Musa × paradisiaca.
Musa species are native to tropical Indomalaya and Australia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. They are grown in 135 countries. 1
The slender or conical false trunk of Musaceae herbs may rise to 15 metres (50 feet). The 'trunk' is formed by the leaf sheaths of the spirally arranged leaves, which form a crown at the top. The large leaves may be up to three metres long and half a metre wide. The prominent midrib of the leaf is joined at right or slightly oblique angles with parallel veins. When the plant grows in an unsheltered place, wind and rain easily tear the leaves between the veins, giving the leaves a fringed or ragged appearance. The large, leathery 'bracts' (leaflike structures) are red to purple. The yellow flowers have five fertile stamens and are rich in nectar. 2
There are many varieties of bananas, eg: in Thailand - (see image)
Some species of wild bananas, such as M. coccinea, have ornamental scarlet flowers but inedible fruit. M. textilis from the Philippines furnishes Manila hemp, also called abaca fibre. The genus Ensete of Africa produces no edible bananas, but the flower stalk of one species, E. ventricosa, is edible after cooking. Species of Ensete are distinguished from those of Musa by their larger seeds.
REFERENCES: Wikipedia 1 Encyclopaedia Britannica 2