When you grow bananas in your jungle home, you really should get to know more about them! So here we’ve compiled a list of 10 things that you may or may not know about bananas that we found fascinating!
1. 1000 Different Varieties
There are believed to be approximately 1000 different varieties of bananas! This includes wild-types and cultivated varieties. Interestingly though, you can almost be guaranteed that the banana you had last week was one of only 2 varieties that are mass-cultivated for market distribution.
2. One Bunch Of Fruit
Each tree will only reliably produce one bunch of fruit. This is why we chop the tree down when harvesting the bananas (see the video below). Of course, there are exceptions to the rule – one particular variety of banana out of the 1000 actually produces two stems at once. Plus, even the regular ones can be particularly “fruitful”, with one tree in the Philippines recorded as producing 5 bunches of bananas.
3. They are Cormous
Corms are kind of like bulbs! So the tree grows from a corm. That corm can be transplanted relatively easily and you’ll be growing more trees in no time.
4. Propagated by Rhizome – Bananas Are Asexual
Whilst you can transplant them because they are cormous, the corms then grow outwards underground to produce more banana trees. This lateral growth and spread is due to bananas also being rhizomes. It also means that they don’t require pollination to reproduce.
5. Identical Twins!
Considering their propagation is asexual, each tree is genetically identical! Which is wild to think of that many bananas in the world having the same DNA (within a single variety). The biggest trouble with a lack of genetic diversity is that there is essentially no disease resistance. If one disease starts to take over a variety of banana, you can almost be guaranteed that it will be mostly wiped out before long. (Which is actually what happened to the variety known as “Gros Michel” in the 1950’s).
More than other fruits, bananas are slightly radioactive. It’s important to mention that a lot of whole foods have small radioactive signatures and it’s not damaging to us. Bananas have a higher radioactive signature than other fruits because of the higher Potassium content. Potassium naturally degrades to a radioactive isotope known as “potassium-40”.
7. Only Females Make bananas?
Within every fruiting stem, you will find both female and male flowers. The female flowers are located closer to the tree and they are the only ones that develop into bananas! The male flowers can be found, undeveloped in the inflorescence (flower spike at the end of the banana stem).
8. We Love ‘Nanas long time
Evidence suggests that we humans have been cultivating bananas since about 8000 BCE!
9. Vitamin B6
Though known for their potassium content, bananas are actually a richer source of Vit B6, providing 31% of our daily value. (vs. 8% for Potassium).
Banana leaves can actually be used as umbrellas because the wax coating on the leaves is waterproof. So the next time you forget your brolly, just find a banana leaf and you’ll be all set! 😉
Bonus fact, learned from the jungle
The birds will get them faster than you can blink if you leave them on the tree too long.
To see some banana harvesting action, check out our video below from Costa Rica on one of our training intensives.