Facts about bananas

February 13, 2012 | In: Food facts

I remember my childhood had a very strange question that I never got to answer: If bananas don’t have any seeds, how do they grow? Along with this article, me, myself and I found the answer to my age old question.

All across the world, there are almost 1,000 species of banana today. Most of them are inedible – they carry hard pea-sized seeds, and have only a small amount of bad-tasting flesh. The botanists think that about 10,000 years ago, probably in South-East Asia, a random mutation produced a sterile banana with no seeds and lots of flesh that could be eaten uncooked. The internal dark lines and spots inside today’s banana are the vestigial remnant of these seeds.
The edible farmed banana has no seeds. So how do we get new bananas? The answer is rather a simple one: they take cuttings from the existing banana plant. New banana “trees” are “born” in a new location when the shoots of cuttings are planted in the ground, and take root successfully.

The cycle starts with an underground stem, or root, often meters across, that can have several banana “trees” growing from it. Each of these so-called “trees” started from an underground “bud”. A “bud” is something that will push up a shoot, which breaks through the soil. The shoot is made of leaves, wrapped tightly around each other, so that it looks like a green tree trunk – even though there is no wood present. The oldest leaves are on the outside, with the newest leaves pushing upward through the middle.

When the time is right, the underground stem switches from making leaves, to making an “inflorescence”, which makes flowers, and subsequently, fruit. The inflorescence has a broad leaf-like structure that wraps around a hand of flowers, which ultimately turn into bananas. The final “tree” can be up to 6 meters tall, with bunches of 50-150 individual fruits or “fingers” of bananas, broken up into hands of 10-20 bananas each.

Even though it is sterile, we still can consider the banana as being a fruit and sure, we can still eat as much as we want, because they’re healthy, as well.

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