A banana tree is a must if you wish to bring a sizeable touch of the tropics into your home. You might refer to it as a banana tree, dwarf banana or Musa… whatever you like. This exotic plant from the Musaceae family has rugged leaves and is a jack of all trades. If you get tired of looking at it - which is almost impossible - you can use the leaves as decoration to cover your party table, or even use them to prepare your food* in -Asian-style. If all that has made you thirsty, then take inspiration from the East Africans and make yourself a nice glass of banana beer or wine*.
Colours and shapes
The banana tree is often called the banana tree, because it appears to have a trunk. New leaves are constantly pushed out of the centre, which then unfold. The pseudo stems of Musa ingens can reach a diameter of up to 3 metres. There are some 400 species worldwide and The Cavendish is the most important species for our edible bananas. Did you know that the banana tree in your home can also produce bananas - even edible ones? It often takes more than three years for the first flowers to appear on the plant, and these are needed for the fruit. The plant’s large leaves are thin and tear easily. The rhizomes produce new runners which you can use for cuttings.
Why are bananas bent? Gravity causes the fruit to hang down but they would prefer to grow upwards, and do their best to achieve that.
Its infertile bunches mean that the banana is the Buddhist symbol for the uselessness of all earthly things. In Alanya, Turkey, the discovery of the banana also started fairly negatively: in the second half of the 19th century ships sailed from Alanya to destinations including Egypt and Cyprus to trade beans, nuts and tea for oil and soap. The trader Serifali Ahmet Aga brought a banana tree back to the Turkish town. He planted it, and sometime later curved yellow fruit appeared. Mr Aga’s relatives wanted absolutely nothing to do with these fruits, which they assumed were probably very poisonous. The family housekeeper didn’t worry about this, because she saw all sorts of insects eating the bananas that had fallen on the ground. She tasted them, enjoyed them and didn’t die! Suddenly the poisonous banana was no longer poisonous. Very soon Alanya was full of banana plantations.
The banana is one of the oldest cultivated crops: since the sixth century BC according to Buddhist records. An American engineer started commercial banana production in Costa Rica in 1871. Originally a South-East Asian and Australian plant, it is now cultivated in many tropical countries - for its delicious fruit, obviously.
* Please note: you cannot eat/drink all plants as they will have to be grown specially for consumption. If you’re unsure, talk to your florist or garden centre.