Bananas originated in tropical Asia but are also extensively cultivated in South America and the Caribbean area. Plantain is a close relative of the edible banana. It should actually be cooked well before eating. Most of the varieties grown in tropical countries are plantain varieties.
Though we get different fruits from trees, bananas as it is wrongly believed does not come from banana trees. They actually grow on large flowering plants that have neither woody trunk nor branches. The stem of the banana plant is very thick and is about 10-25 feet tall. One can find long leafstalks and blades tightly wrapped together. The stem is also much consumed edible part of the plant.
With the growth of 10 foot broad leaves, the stem grows taller and taller. After a year or so, a huge colorful bud appears to dangle from a long stalk. When the bud opens, it comes up with rows of flowers. Some of these flowers will become green bananas. After bearing one bunch of fruit, the whole plant dies.
There is also a rare relative of banana plant which is called the traveler’s tree of Madagascar. The stalks of the large leaves are arranged in a fan shape on a short trunk and hollows at the bases of the stalks form cups that may collect a quart of rainwater. A thirsty traveler in this island could cut through the base to reach the life saving liquid.
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