The banana is the most popular fruit eaten in North America with the average person consuming 27 pounds a year. That’s a lot of fruit. And to most people a banana is just a banana, a dominant variety named Cavendish; yellow, firm, and seedless that’s been grown and exported commercially after the original table banana, the Gros Michel was wiped out worldwide by a fungus causing a shortage of the delicious yellow fruit.
One of our banana plants has begun to flower and produce fruit. Even though bananas seem to grow on trees they are actually grown on large flowering plants. We were given several of the “corms” that our plants have grown from about this time last year. To picture what a corm is like, think gladioli or crocus only about eight to ten inches in size. Over the last year our plants have all begun to mature, sprouting beautiful, big green leaves that turn brown and fall off eventually as the plants grow to their mature height. The plant that is beginning to produce fruit already has offshoots growing from the base that will replace the plant once fruiting is finished on the “mama” plant and it dies. We’ve already decided that we don’t have room for all the babies and so only the strongest will be kept.
Now that our largest plant is mature, the plant has stopped growing new leaves and a flower spike has formed. This is where the magic begins with the fruit forming from the banana heart, in a hanging cluster, made up of tiers or “hands”. I’ve counted and we have about ten to 14 bananas on each tier and so far four tiers have formed with more on the way.
Our trees are not the ever popular Cavendish variety commonly grown for export in Panama. Ours are the smaller, sweeter variety named Manzana (Apple) Banana or Latudan Banana. These bananas are not seen as often in the supermarkets in Canada although sometimes you can find them. These lovely small, sweet and less starchy fruits are most commonly grown in the Philippines and that is where they are usually imported from. In fact I think I recall Daughter #2 saying that they feed Cavendish Bananas to the pigs in the Philippines.
It is an extraordinary experience watching things that we have planted produce in such a short time. Hopefully soon there will be all sorts of banana goodies baked from our own bananas gracing the table in the campo.
- Global Love Of Bananas May Be Hurting Costa Rica’s Crocodiles (npr.org)
- Bananas! (thefarmersfriend.wordpress.com)
- Disease give bananas an ‘uncertain future’ (abc.net.au)
- Bananas About Bananas! (homeofthe20s.wordpress.com)
- Banana (Musa) (srobertson3us.wordpress.com)