Banana plants (musa) are technically herbs and are the largest herbaceous flowering plant. What appears to be the tree trunk is actually a stem from the corm which is in the ground. The banana fruits develop from the banana heart, in a large hanging cluster, made up of tiers (called “hands”), with up to 20 fruit to a tier. The hanging cluster is known as a bunch, comprising 3–20 tiers, or commercially as a “banana stem”, and can weigh 60–110 lb.
Export bananas are picked green, and ripen in special rooms upon arrival in the destination country. These rooms are air-tight and filled with ethylene gas to induce ripening. The vivid yellow color consumers normally associate with supermarket bananas is, in fact, caused by the artificial ripening process.
Each stem will only produce fruit one time.
To propagate banana plants separate pups from mature plant. Plants are self pollinating.
- Dwarf Cavendash: The Dwarf Cavendish banana is a widely grown and commercially important Cavendish cultivar. The name “Dwarf Cavendish” is in reference to the height of the pseudostem, not the fruit. Young plants have maroon or purple blotches on their leaves but quickly lose them as they mature. It is one of the most commonly planted banana varieties from the Cavendish group, and the main source of commercial Cavendish bananas along with Grand Nain.
- Grand Naine: Grand Naine (pictured above) is among the most well known varieties of Cavendish, the name refers to its relative height compared to the Giant Cavendish and Dwarf Cavendish cultivars. Its characteristic medium height and large fruit yields make it ideal for commercial agriculture. The moderate height allows easy harvesting and some resistance to windthrow (plants breaking due to strong winds). The seedless quality of the fruits also increases its popularity.
- Hua Moa: The Hua Moa banana is a creamy tasting delicious banana with a large fruit and a Hawaiian background. Ranked as the worlds best cooking banana and is also enjoyed fresh. Fruits are often 10 inches long and 4 inches wide and it is an easy to grow and carefree plant.
- Unknown: I received one plant of an unknown variety (see below) as a leftover from a plant and seed exchange event held at Three Acre Paradise. It is a short, stocky plant and does not have any pups yet. I’ll update this if and when it can be identified