This week's plant spotlight features a plant favourite of both people and pets: the Banana Plant! Our good friends Baloo and Juma are well known for being a "little" dramatic when it comes to caring. But having to give them extra water and sun is definitely worth it for their gorgeous large leaves. And besides looking great and being pet-friendly, Banana Plants also have a lot of different features that make them truly unique. So let's go bananas and learn all about the Banana Plant!
Banana Plants belong to the Musa genus, which has nearly 70 different species of banana and plantain plants. Although they are often referred to as Banana Trees, their stems are actually the base of their leaves, which makes them a type of herb. And while Baloo and Juma are quite small, Banana Plants in the wild can grow up to 9 metres high, making them the largest herb on earth!
The bananas we see in the super market are largely a result of many years of breeding. Although there are many type of bananas and plantains, the most popular and widely distributed one is the Cavendish. The Cavendish is a new species that became popular during the 1950s, as a replacement to the Gros Micheal banana, which was wiped out by a fungal disease. Although Cavendish is the main banana distributed worldwide, there are many other types of bananas with lots of different colours and shapes. These include the bright red scarlet banana (Musa Coccinaea), the pink banana (Musa Velutina), Blue Java banana, and the bright orange Fe'i bananas. Who knew there were so many?
Besides making delicious berries (yes, bananas are technically a berry!), Musa' have also been used for many different purposes. Banana Plant leaves are used in many cultures to store, pack, and cook food. And the banana plant itself, including its stem and sap, is edible and used for medicinal purposes throughout the world. Nice job, Baloo and Juma!