|Banana - Musa spp.|
Fruits of wild-type bananas have numerous large, hard seeds
Leaf emerging (cigar-leaf)
The cigar leaf is completely free, has reached its full lenghth and its diameter has increased
Last stage of an unfolding cigar leaf. Each new banana leaf emerges from the center of the pseudostem as a tightly rolled cylinder (the cigar leaf) that can take from one to three weeks to
Beginning of inflorescense
The inflorescence emerges at the top of the plant and soon starts pointing down, with the exception of Fei bananas. 6
The bract lifts, or curls up at the tip, exposing the female flowers that will develop into fruit. The flowers are arranged in clusters, the future hands. 6
Certain cultivars possess clusters of flowers of transitional nature that are positioned between the female flowers, which turn into fruit, and the male flowers, which produce the pollen. 6
The last type of flowers to appear are the male flowers, which are also subtended by a bract. 6
The male flower, with immature bananas behind
Removal of the male flower
Immature banana bunch
Maturing bunch (rounded shape of the fruit)
Small banana plantation in south India
Banana bunch encased in a blue plastic bag, growing on a banana plantation on the island of St. Lucia
Indian Bananas, various varieties sold in a rural shop in Chinna Dharapuram town in western Tamil Nadu, India
Banana flowers and leaves for sale in the Thanin market in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Banana vendor in Vietnam
Indonesia, Bali market
Common names for banana
Spanish-speaking people say banana china (Paraguay), banano enano (Costa Rica), cambur or camburi (Colombia, Venezuela), cachaco, colicero, cuatrofilos (Colombia); carapi (Paraguay), curro (Panama), guineo (Costa Rico, Puerto Rico, E1 Salvador); murrapo (Colombia); mampurro (Dominican Republic); patriota (Panama); platano (Mexico); platano de seda (Peru); platano enano (Cuba); suspiro (Dominican Republic); zambo (Honduras). Portuguese names in Brazil are: banana maca, banana de Sao Tome', banana da Prata. In French islands or areas, the terms may be bananier nain, bananier de Chine (Guadaloupe), figue, figue banane, figue naine (Haiti). Where German is spoken, they say: echte banane, feige, or feigenbaum. In the Sudan, baranda 3
Common names for plantain
May be known as banaan (Surinam); banano macho (Panama); banane or bananier (Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique); banane misquette or banane musquee, or pie banane (Haiti); bananeira de terra (Brazil); banano indio (Costa Rica); barbaro (Mexico); butuco (Honduras); parichao (Venezuela); plantain (Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad); platano (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic); platano burro, platano hembra (Cuba); platano macho (Cuba, Panama); platano de la isla (Peru); topocho or yapuru (Venezuela); zapolote (Mexico) 3
Relatives of banana within the Order Zingiberales
Numerous ornamental plants including traveler's palm, bird-of-paradise, heliconia, and ginger 1
Native to southeast Asia 1
USDA hardiness zones
Fruit; landscape ornamental; sun-screens for southeaster/western walls 1
6-30 ft (1.8-9.1 m) 4
10-15 ft (3.9-4.6 m) 4
Pruning the banana mat is necessary for best vegetative growth and fruit production 1
Evergreen; broadleaf; spiral; simple; entire, undulate margin; oblong shape; more than 36 in. (91.4 m) 4
Showy; purple, orange 4
Elongated, fleshy; yellow green; 1-3 in., 3-6 in. (2.5-7.6 cm, 7.6-16.2 cm)
Varies; takes 3 months from flower to fruit
USDA Nutrient Content pdf
Full sun, partial sun, or partial shade 4
Prefer well drained, deep soils high in organic matter; many cultivars perform satisfactorily on sandy, loamy, muck, calcareous marl rocky soils 1
Cultivars with Musa balbisiana genes are more drought tolerant than cultivars of M. acuminata
Aerosol salt tolerance
Soil salt tolerance
Do not grow or fruit well in saline soils; symptoms: yellowing and death of the leaf margins and thin, deformed fruit 1
Kill plant at 28°F (-2°C); damage at 32°F (0°C) 1
Notoriously susceptible to wind damage; winds above 50 miles/hour may topple and uproot plants 5
Depending upon cultivars
Shallow; numerous (200–500) fibrous roots arise from the rhizome; may extend 5 ft (1.5 m) deep and 16 ft (4.9 m) laterally 1
Invasive potential *
Little invasive potential
Scales, weevils and nematodes are the most common pests; Sigatoka leaf-spot, black leaf steak and Panama disease may infect this plant 4
Banana Growing in the Florida Landscape from the University of Florida pdf 10 pages
Bananas - Americas Favorite Fruit from Hendry County Cooperative Extension Service pdf Banana from Julia Morton's Book 'Fruits of Warm Climates
Musa spp.: Banana from the University of Florida pdf
How to Grow Bananas Indoors from the Weekend Gardener Online Magazine
Edible bananas originated in the Indo-Malaysian region reaching to northern Australia. They were known only by hearsay in the Mediterranean region in the 3rd Century B.C., and are believed to have been first carried to Europe in the 10th Century A.D. Early in the 16th Century, Portuguese mariners transported the plant from the West African coast to South America. The types found in cultivation in the Pacific have been traced to eastern Indonesia from where they spread to the Marquesas and by stages to Hawaii. 3
Bananas are vigorously growing, monocotyledonous herbaceous plants. There are two species of banana, Musa acuminata and M. balbisiana, and most banana cultivars are hybrids of these species. Banana cultivars vary greatly in plant and fruit size, plant morphology, fruit quality, and disease and insect resistance. Most bananas have a sweet flavor when ripe; exceptions to this are cooking bananas and plantains. 1
Plantains are hybrid bananas in which the male flowering axis is either degenerated, lacking, or possesses only relicts of male flowers. Plantains are always cooked before consumption and are higher in starch than bananas. The two groups of plantains, French and Horn, produce fewer fruit per plant than sweet bananas. The groups differ in whether the male parts of the inflorescence are persistent or absent. 1
The banana is a fast-growing plant consisting of one or more pseudostems (upright, trunk-like structures) formed by tightly packed concentric layers of leaf sheaths, an underground rhizome, and a fibrous root system. The entire plant is called a mat. The pseudostem constitutes the functional trunk which supports the leaves and the flower and fruit bearing stalk. 1
A sucker is a lateral shoot that develops from the rhizome and usually emerges close to the parent plant. Other names for sucker are keiki (in Hawaii) and pup. A sucker that has just emerged through the soil surface is called a peeper. A full grown sucker bearing foliage leaves is called a maiden sucker. Morphologically, there are two types of sucker: sword suckers (right on the photo), characterized by narrow leaves and a large rhizome, and water suckers (left on the photo), which have broad leaves and a small rhizome. Water suckers have a weak connection to the parent plant and as such will not develop into a strong plant. The number of suckers produced varies with the type of cultivar. The sucker selected to replace the parent plant after fruiting is called the follower or ratoon. 6
A rhizome is an underground stem with numerous meristems (growing points) from which the pseudostems, flowering and fruiting stalks, and fibrous roots arise. 1
Sheath and leaves
The banana leaf consists of a long, tube-like structure called a sheath, a stout petiole (leaf stalk), and a lamina or leaf blade. The tight packing of numerous sheaths form the pseudostem. One pseudostem may have over 40 leaves during its lifetime. 1
The cigar leaf (Fig. ) is a recently emerged leaf still rolled as a cylinder. The lapse of time in which a leaf unfolds varies. Under favourable climatic conditions, it takes about seven days, but it can take up to 15 to 20 days under poor conditions. The new leaf is tightly coiled, whitish, and particularly fragile. The extension at the tip of the leaf is called the precursory appendage. After emergence, it withers and falls off. 6
Fig. 6. Banana leaf
Fig. 7. Banana leaf underside
Fig. 8. Pseudostem
Fig. 9. Pseudostem showing many leaves
Fig. 10,11. Petioles
Fig. 24. Banana plants stripped of their pseudostem to reveal the floral stem that supports the inflorescence/bunch. The floral stem is the banana plant's true stem, as opposed to the pseudostem which is formed by the sheaths of the leaves. The floral stem grows through the centre of the pseudostem before emerging at the top of the plant. The leaves' insertion points along the floral stem are visible on the photo. 6
Fig. 25. Drawing of a banana mat showing the true stem (shown in blue) inside the pseudostem. The clump formed by the fruit-bearing parent plant, its suckers and the rhizome is called a mat. 6
The leaf is the banana plant's main photosynthetic organ. It consists of the leaf blade and the leaf sheath, which contracts into a petiole. The petiole becomes the midrib, which divides the blade into two lamina halves. Lamina veins run parallel to each other in a long S shape from midrib to margin. Veins do not branch, which results in leaves tearing easily. 7
Fig. 12. Winged and undulating
Fig. 13. Winged and not clasping the pseudostem
Fig. 14. Winged and clasping the pseudostem
Fig. 15. Not winged and clasping the pseudostem
Fig. 16. Not winged and not clasping the pseudostem
Flowers and fruit
The inflorescence is a complex structure that includes the flowers that will develop into fruits. It is supported by the aerial true stem, which is often called the floral stem. The aerial true stem is produced by the terminal growing point on the rhizome. It grows through the pseudostem and emerges at the top of the plant soon after the last cigar leaf (Fig. ). 6
The banana inflorescence (flowering stalk) emerges from the center of the pseudostem 10 to 15 months after planting; by this time 26 to 32 leaves have been produced. The process of banana flowering is called shooting. The flowers appear spirally along the axis of the inflorescence in groups of 10 to 20, covered by purplish-to-greenish fleshy bracts which shed as flowering development progresses. The first flowers to emerge are functionally female.The fruit is a berry. Although most banana cultivars produce seedless fruit, some are fertile and can set seed. The last flowers to emerge are functionally male. In plantains, the male flowers may be absent or greatly reduced. 1
Banana Inflorescense Sequence by Ian Maguire Tropical Research and Education Center, University of Florida
There are many banana cultivars. Parents of the cultivated types are Musa acuminata and M. balbisiana, two wild species which are usually seedy. Banana cultivars are complex diploid, triploid, and tetraploid hybrids among M. acuminata and M. balbisiana. In general, those with a high proportion of M. acuminata produce sweet fruit, whereas those with a high proportion of M. balbisiana produce starchy fruit. 1
Banana Varieties sorted by genome
Selected banana cultivars that may be available in south Florida from the University of Florida
Banana Cultivars for Florida from the University of Florida pdf 18 pages
Illustrated guide to the identification of banana varieties in the South Pacific from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
Potential Cultivars for Dessert and Cooking from the University of Florida pdf
The time from shooting to fruit harvest depends upon temperature, cultivar, soil moisture, and cultural practices and ranges from 80 to 180 days. The time from planting a small banana sucker and harvest ranges from 9 to 20 months. 1
Banana bunches are harvested when the fruits are fully developed, that is, 75% mature, the angles are becoming less prominent and the fruits on the upper hands are changing to light green; and the flower remnants (styles) are easily rubbed off the tips. 3
In the edible cultivars, the rapidly growing ovaries develop parthenocarpically (without pollination) into clusters of fruits, called "hands." 1
It is possible to produce 8-10 suckers per plant the first year under ideal growing conditions. The number of suckers diminishes in the following years. Some varieties sucker more than others. A high degree of suckering is wanted in cases where it is necessary to increase the planting material of a desirable clone for distribution to farmers and certain techniques are used to increase suckering. If the banana plant is left alone, it will soon be surrounded by many suckers. Sucker production must be controlled else they will compete with the mother plant for water and plant food and so the fruit formed by the mother plant will be very small and yields will lessen. All the useless suckers should be cut out before they get too big. To make sure that we have only one or two strong suckers for the next generation, allow only one new sucker to grow every three months.
After bunches are beginning to mature cut off the male inflorescence (male bud) six to eight inches below the bottom of the last flower. The male bud is removed after the last hand appears. This is done to re-channel the food produced by the plants to the developing fruits. 2
Propagation from the University of Florida
In south Florida, March, April, and May are the best months for planting if irrigation is available. Otherwise planting should be delayed until the onset of the rains in June. Planting holes should be large (3-ft-wide by 2-ft-deep; 0.9 m x 0.6 m) if possible. Addition and mixing with the native soil of completely composted organic matter or a sand-peat moss mixture may be desirable. Plants should be watered-in thoroughly, and a heavy layer of mulch placed around the suckers immediately after planting will assist in keeping the soil moist and will suppress weeds. 1
Planting distance for banana plants varies with the ultimate size of the variety. Dwarf or small stature banana plants may be planted 20 ft or more from other plants but may be planted as close as 8 ft from other dwarf or small stature banana plants. Large banana varieties should be planted 12 or more feet from other banana plants to leave room for expansion of the mat.
In soils with low fertility, such as the sandy and calcareous soils of south Florida, bananas should be fertilized frequently (4 to 6 times) for maximum production. The potash requirement is high and fertilizers with a high K2O content should be used, e.g., N-P2O5 -K2O in a ratio of 3-1-6. The amount of fertilizer depends on size and age of the stalk and on the number of stalks per clump. 1
In Florida, at least one nutritional spray containing manganese and zinc is recommended annually. Sources of these elements available at garden centers may be used; follow label directions. Copper should be included in the spray if no copper-containing fungicide is used. Banana plants growing in acid sandy soils may be fertilized with 0.5 to 1.0 lb dry iron sulfate 1 to 2 times during the warmer part of the year. Banana plants growing in high pH, calcareous soils may be fertilized with 1 to 2 oz of chelated iron material (EDDHA) during the warmer part of the year. 1
Bananas require large amounts of water and are very sensitive to drought. Bananas need about 4 to 6 inches (102–152 mm) of water per month for normal growth and production. Thus about 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5–4 cm) of water should be applied per week. 1
However, caution should be exercised against over-irrigation. Bananas are extremely susceptible to damage by flooding, continuously wet soils, and soil with inadequate drainage. 1
Allowing numerous pseudostems to grow from a single mat may lead to small bunches of low quality fruit and encourage disease development. A good practice consists of having only one pseudostem flowering and fruiting, one pseudostem about half grown, and one small sucker or peeper per mat. 1
Other Causes of Damage to Bananas
Bananas are eaten fresh and used in salads, desserts, breads, and candy. Plantains are cooked before use and may be baked, fried, or grilled. 1
Thais use banana flowers raw in such dishes as yum hua plee (a spicy salad with thinly sliced uncooked banana flowers) or steamed whole as one of the ingredients eaten with the spicy Thai chilli dip called nam phrik kapi. It can also feature in soups such as tom yum or deep fried as tod mun hua plee. Steamed, the taste of the flowers is somewhat similar to that of artichokes. 5
Banana leaves are often used as (ecologically friendly) disposable food containers or as "plates". Steamed with dishes such as hor mok pla it imparts a subtle sweet flavour. It is often also seen used as a wrapping for grilling food and as such it contains the juices of the wrapped food and prevents the food from getting burned whilst at the same time giving off a subtle flavour. 5
Fig. 30. Banana chips
Fig. 31. Chocolate covered frozen banana
Fig. 32. Banana bread
Fig. 33. Food served on Banana Leaf. This is a traditional way of serving food more popular in Southern India
Fig. 34. Banana Halwa
Fig. 35. Bananas and ice cream
Banana Recipe from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Virtual Herbarium
Banana Uses and Recipes from the University of Florida pdf
South Florida Tropicals: Banana from the University of Florida pdf
Medicinal Uses **
All parts of the banana plant have medicinal applications: the flowers in bronchitis and dysentery and on ulcers; cooked flowers are given to diabetics; the astringent plant sap in cases of hysteria, epilepsy, leprosy, fevers, hemorrhages, acute dysentery and diarrhea, and it is applied on hemorrhoids, insect and other stings and bites; young leaves are placed as poultices on burns and other skin afflictions; the astringent ashes of the unripe peel and of the leaves are taken in dysentery and diarrhea and used for treating malignant ulcers; the roots are administered in digestive disorders, dysentery and other ailments; banana seed mucilage is given in cases of catarrh and diarrhea in India. 3
Antifungal and antibiotic principles are found in the peel and pulp of fully ripe bananas. The antibiotic acts against Mycobacteria. A fungicide in the peel and pulp of green fruits is active against a fungus disease of tomato plants. Norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin are also present in the ripe peel and pulp. The first two elevate blood pressure; serotonin inhibits gastric secretion and stimulates the smooth muscle of the intestines. 3
The banana plant because of its continuous reproduction is regarded by Hindus as a symbol of fertility and prosperity, and the leaves and fruits are deposited on doorsteps of houses where marriages are taking place. A banana plant is often installed in the corner of a rice field as a protective charm. Malay women bathe with a decoction of banana leaves for 15 days after childbirth. Early Hawaiians used a young plant as a truce flag in wars. 3
Banana Musa Rosa from the University of Florida pdf
Banana Guide for the CNMI from the University of Hawaii at Manoa pdf 36 pages
Bananas and Plantains - an Overview - Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry pdf 27 pages
Musa species (banana and plantain) - Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry pdf 33 pages
The Biology of Musa L. (banana) from the Australian Government, dept. of Health and Ageing pdf 80 pages
Banana and Plantain Specialty Crop for Pacific Island Agroforestry pdf 20 pages
Sorting Musa Names ext. link
Tropical Fruit Growers of South Florida Video ext. link
Bananas: More Than A Frou Frou Fruit from Green Dean, eattheweeds.com
Banana Botanical Art
List of Growers and Vendors
1 Crane, Johathan H., Balerdi, Carlos F. and Maquire, Ian. "Bananas Growing in the Home Landscape." edis.ifas.ufl.edu. This document is HS-10, one of a series of the Department of Horticultural Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. First printed 1972 as FC-10. Revised Jan. 1998, Dec. 2005, Oct. 2008, and Nov. 2016. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.
2 Nandwani, Dilip, Tudela, Anthony and Cabrera, Isidoro T. "Banana guide for the CNMI." hawaii.edu. 2010. Northern Marianas, Northern Marianas College. Web. 31 Aug. 2014.
3 Morton, J. 1987. Banana. hort.purdue.edu. Fruits of warm climates, p. 29–46. Web. 24 March 2014.
4 Gilman, Edward F. and Dennis G. Watson. "Musa spp.: Banana." edis.ifas.ufl.edu. This document is ENH-568, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date Nov. 1993. Revised Dec. 2006. Reviewed Feb. 2014.
Boning, Charles R. Florida's Best Fruiting Plants- Native and Exotic Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. Pineapple Press, Inc. sarasota, Florida. Print.
Whitman, William F. Five Decades with Tropical Fruit, A Personal Journey. Quiscalis Books in cooperation with Fairchild Tropical Garden. Southeastern Printing Company. Stuart, Slorida. U.S.A. 2001. Print.
Lessard, W.O. The complete Book of Bananas. Manufactured in the United States. First Hardback Edition June 1992. Print.
5 Takeaway. "Banana flowers and leaves for sale in the Thanin market in Chiang Mai, Thailand." wikipedia.org. 2009. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
6 Vezina, Anne. "Morphology of the banana plant." Musapedia. Last modified 14 Nov. 2016. Version 1. promusa.org. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Web. 22 Mar. 2017.
7 Vezina, Anne. "Banana leaf." Musapedia. Last modified 28 Jul. 2016. Version 59. promusa.org. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
8 Videos by Dr. Jonathan Crane, Professor and Tropical Fruit Crops Specialist at the University of Florida/IFAS Tropical Research Center in Homestead, FL.
Fig. 1 Maguire, Ian. 'Viente cohol' banana. 2011. trec.ifas.ufl.edu. From the Tropical Fruit Photography Picture Archive. Web. 24 March. 2014.
Fig. 2 Roonguthai, Warut. Fruits of wild-type bananas have numerous large, hard seeds. 2007. wikipedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 3,4,17,23,26,27,28 Jackson, Karen. "Banana Series." 2013. growables.org. JPEG file.
Fig. 5 Chaput, Pascal. Cigar leaf unfolding. 2010. Musarama. promusa.org. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 6,7,8,9,10,11 Maguire, Ian. Banana Inflorescense Series. 2000. From the Tropical Fruit Photography Picture Archive. trec.ifas.ufl.edu. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 12,13,14,15,16 Petioles. N.d. Musarama. promusa.org. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 18 Vezina, Anne. Male Bud. 2010. Musarama. Bioversity International. promusa.org. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 19 Vezina, Anne. Inflorescense, female flowers, furit development. 2009. Musarama. Bioversity International. promusa.org. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 20 Vezina, Anne. Transitional flowers. 2010. Musarama. Bioversity International. promusa.org. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 21 Vezina, Anne. Male flowers. 2009. Musarama. Bioversity International. promusa.org. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 22 Mokkie. The male flower, with immature bananas behind. N.d. Useful Tropical Plants Database. tropical.theferns.info. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 24 Blomme, Guy. Naked banana plants. 2008. Musarama. promusa.org. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 25 Drawing of a banana plant. N.d. Musarama. promusa.org. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 29 Starr, Forest and Kim. Ripe Bananas. N.d. Useful Tropical Plants Database. tropical.theferns.info. Under (CC BY 3.0). Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 30,31,32,41,42,43,44 Banana images. pixabay.com. Public Domain. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 33 Akshay.paramatmuni1987. Food served on Banana Leaf. This is a traditional way of serving food more popular in Southern India. 2012. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 34 Kudua, Divya. Banana Halwa. 2011. flickr.com. (CC BY 2.0). Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 35 Bananas and ice cream. 2011. wikipedia.org. Public Domain. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 36 Rameshng. Small banana plantation in south India. N.d. Useful Tropical Plants Database. tropical.theferns.info. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 37 Fairsing. Banana bunch encased in a blue plastic bag, growing on a banana plantation on the island of St. Lucia. 2000. wikipedia.org. Public Domain. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 38 Ask27. Indian Bananas, various varieties sold in a rural shop in Chinna Dharapuram town in western Tamil Nadu, India. 2015. wikipedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 39 Takeaway. Banana flowers and leaves for sale in the Thanin market in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 2009. wikipedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
* UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
** Information provided is not intended to be used as a guide for treatment of medical conditions.
Published 21 Mar. 2014 LR. Last update 29 July 2017 LR