Saturday, June 27, 2015

Banana Flowers & Bunches

I never knew what bananas looked like on a tree until I started my farm project. For some odd reason I thought that they grew UP, not down. Don't ask me why I came up with that visual idea....perhaps something from my childhood. 

Of course I knew that bananas grew on a "tree", so I was a bit surprised to find that it's not really a tree. You mean that this "tree" grows for a year to two, produces one clump of bananas, then dies? Whoa. 

I got this neat photo of female banana flowers (below). Usually I never get to see them. Maybe this tree is an oddball, or maybe I'm always too late in looking, but I normally don't see the female blossoms on the ends of the baby bananas. 

So where are the male flowers? They are in that big purplish bulb-thing hanging down under the baby bananas. That bulb opens a layer at a time revealing male flowers underneath the opened stealth covers. 
For edible bananas, those male flowers don't mean a thing. Edible bananas aren't fertilized. There are no developed seeds inside a banana that we eat. 

The above stalk of fruits are well along the way to becoming fully developed. The little bananas start out thin, then gradually grow larger but are very angular in shape. Then finally the fruits plump out, looking like real bananas. Commercially they are harvested green, at this stage. Then they are ripened via chemical treatment. But on my homestead they are ripened naturally. I wait for one banana to start turning yellow before I cut the entire bunch down off the tree. The others then rather quickly ripen. This leaves me with an over abundance of bananas, yes. But they are quite usable for trading and sharing.


  1. We used to get "hands" of almost fully-ripe bananas from the banana boats coming to Aruba from Venezuela; occasionally, we'd see a big banana spider crawling out of the stalks they had at the docks, so my mother rarely bought a whole stalk for us. Plantains for me are still those big cooking bananas, not some wifty weed.

  2. My favorite are Jamaican red bananas but I haven't been able to find them here on the mainland. All we get are the williamson ones. I heard there are no "wild" bananas. That they have been so cultivated that the wild ones have died out. Maybe like corn and other things.