This article is a brief study on Bananas, the history of the Banana Plant and tips on growing Banana Plant.
Banana “Trees” are not actually trees but are herbaceous plants in the genus Musa and of the family Musaceae. Due to their size, shape and structure, they are often mistaken for trees. Bananas are largely cultivated for their fruit. But the plant is also used as ornamental plants in gardens.
Typically, there are two types of Bananas that are cultivated, mainly in tropical regions. Firstly, there is the sweet dessert fruit that is eaten raw or used in dessert recipes. There are a wide variety of delicious dessert recipes using Bananas in almost every food culture in the world.
Secondly, plantains are from a group of cultivars with firmer fruit and used generally in cooking vegetable-based dishes like curries. Plantains are especially popular in South-East Asia, India and Jamaica.
History of Bananas
Banana plants were first cultivated for domestic use in Southeast Asia. There is evidence found in Papua New Guinea that shows banana cultivation there dates back to, possibly, 8000 BC. This would mean the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea was probably the first place were Bananas were cultivated. A whole lot of wild Bananas still grow in Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The first time Bananas were talked about in written history was in Buddhist texts around 600 BC. Then, the famous explorer, Alexander the Great found the fruit in India in 327 BC. The very first plantations were said to exist in China way back in 200 AD.
The History of Bananas continued with Islamic Conquerors bringing the fruit to the Middle East and later on, Arab Merchants exposed most of Africa to Bananas. Interestingly, the word Banana is actually of West African origin.
After that, banana cultivation exploded in most of the rest of the world thanks largely to Portuguese colonists who started banana plantations in the Atlantic Islands, Brazil and western Africa. Unfortunately for the Europeans, Bananas were not heard of in Europe until the Victorian Era and even then, only through merchant trade.
These days, Bananas can be found in practically every market in the world without much trouble at all and hurrah for everyone!
Tip and Techniques-Growing Bananas
Growing Banana Plants are easy enough if the right combination of factors is present. A Banana Plant takes about nine months to become mature and it needs a lot of tender loving care for it to grow to its fullest potential.
Generally, a Banana Plant lives up to approximately 25 years. Bananas grow from stems that grow from the ground up called rhizomes and it produces suckers that grow from the main stem of the Banana Plant. Rhizomes have a lifespan of 15 years or more.
The upright plant is called a pseudostem and when it matures, will reach an average height of 2 – 8 metres and the leaves grow up to 3.5 metres in length. Interestingly, each pseudostem produces only a single bunch of bananas. It then dies and is replaced by a new pseudostem.
Growing Banana Plants require a lot of sunlight and a high level of humidity. That is one of the reasons it’s found in abundance in the tropics and hot climate countries. While it is growing, it requires watering every day and a balanced fertilizer to ensure it grows well. The right temperature for growing Banana Plant should be in approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
The soil has to be nutrient-rich and slightly acidic. It should also be able to retain moisture but not much, like roots that are filled with water, will die very fast. When all the right ingredients are present, the Banana Plant grows very quickly and it is a pleasure watching it grow. Not only does it bear fruits, but it is also a beautiful ornamental plant and really stands out in any garden.