Bananas plants are not trees. Technically they are actually very large herbs. They grow from a rhizome, on a stem of tightly packed leaves a bit like a cigar. They can grow as tall as five metres or more.
They fruit once, producing a proboscis that droops down, on which grows a ‘bunch’ of bananas.
A bunch of bananas is not the cluster of eight or ten bananas that you buy in a supermarket. These are often called ‘hands’ (well, they do look like so many fingers, I suppose). A bunch is usually about ten hands and can weight 35 kilos.
Bananas themselves grow ‘upside down’. As the proboscis hangs down, so the square black point of the banana, the unattached end, points upwards.
But surely the loveliest fact is the banana’s botanical name. It is called musa sapientum, or ‘the muse of wise men’. You can just imagine an early guru (bananas originate in the East) sitting in the shade of a banana plant, enjoying the fruit and having spontaneous wise thoughts.
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