Q: Where do bananas originate from?

A: The banana is one of the oldest known fruits in history. It is believed that the banana first grew in Southern Asia and that after many centuries it spread through the East and to the West. “Mohammedans” called the banana tree a “paradise tree”, and Hindus believed the banana tree was sacred to their goddess Kali.

Father Tomas De Berlanga, a priest of the sixteenth century, brought some roots of the banana plant with him to the New World. He hoped to win the friendship of the Indians with this mellow, golden fruit and thus to convert them to Christianity. The result was the development of acres of banana plantations in tropical regions of the Americas.

Q: Do bananas grow on trees?

A: The banana is actually grown on a plant and not on a tree. It is perhaps the largest plant in existence without a woody stem. The stalk, which grows from 3.5 to 9 meters and looks like a tree trunk is really a firm mass of leaf sheaves. There is a huge tuft of drooping leaves at the top of the plant, which are bright green in color.

One large flower bud grows from the central stalk and in due time gives place to the fruit. As the bunch of fruit grows heavier the stalk bends downward so that the bananas hang with their points up. Only one bunch of bananas grows on each plant, but a bunch often weighs 45 kilograms or more.

Bananas are not allowed to ripen on the plant as they may burst and spoil before they can be picked. As such they are always cut while green.