We’ve all learned at school the different parts of a flower: the stem, sepal, petals, pistil and stamen.
And what about bananas? Do you know the different parts of the plant that give rise to this tasty fruit?
If you are curious, keep reading this post.
As you may have already read (in our post Globetrotter bananita) bananas do not grow on trees. Surprisingly they grow on the world’s largest herb. Because what we call banana “trees” are in fact perennial herbs that can grow up to 20 feet tall. They look like trees because they have something similar to a trunk. But this has nothing to do with woody tissues. This is a pseudostem. And what is this? Below you can learn this and more about the different parts of a banana plant.
You can delve into deeply description of each part of the banana plant below.
1. Root system
Roots are responsible for absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. It is formed by primary and secondary roots. All of them originate from the underground structure named rhizome. The primaries can reach up to 3 meters in length. However, the largest root mass is located in the first 60 cm of the soil.
It is commonly known as corm and grows by horizontal underground growth. This is the true banana stem found underground and consists of a flattened dome from which the offspring or offshoots are produced. In particular, they emerge through a vegetative bud from the mother plant. The outer or cortical part of the rhizome plays a protective role, while the central or active part gives rise to the air system, the radical system and the offshoots.
This is the part that looks like a trunk. It is made of “tightly packed overlapping leaf sheaths” *. This spiral assemblage can be arranged up to 25 leaf sheaths. When the pseudostem grows, the leaves emerge one after the other reaching its maximum height (more than 2 m in many cases). At this moment, “the stem, which was developing inside the pseudostem, emerges at the top of the plant”.*
The banana stem has three parts: the rhizome (previously mentioned), the aerial stem and the peduncle (described below). The aerial stem is the part of the plant that grows vertically, above the ground. “As it develops, it carries the inflorescence and the leaf bases upwards inside the pseudostem. When the aerial stem emerges at the top of the plant, it is called the peduncle”.*
A particular feature of the banana plant is that the rhizome is a stem modification which grows laterally and has many nodes on it, so that it can be cut and grown into new plants.
Photosynthesis takes place in the leaves. They originate in the apical meristem (a part of the rhizome). They emerge from the center of the pseudostem as cigar leaves (like a rolled cigar). In other words, a cigar leaf is a recently emerged leaf.
The curious thing is that the pods of the leaves are arranged in helical form inside the rhizome, so that when growing, they form the pseudostem.
It is worth mentioning here a type of leaf that covers the cluster when it is growing. It is known as the placenta or bracteal leaf and is transient. In some parts of the world, it is also known as Capote Leaf.
A sucker is a shoot that grows from the base of the banana plant. Especifically, it grows from a lateral bud on a rhizome. When a sucker emerges through the soil, it is called a peeper. When it has grown and has true leaves it is called maiden sucker. There are different types of suckers, but only sword suckers (those with narrow leaves and a well-developed root system) grow into thriving banana plants.
A good management of suckers is crucial for obtaining quality bananas. If you remove a sucker from the main stem and replant it, it can develop into a new banana plant.
An inflorescence is a complex structure, containing flowers that will develop into fruits. It is produced by the terminal growth point of the rhizome, grows through the pseudostem and emerges at the top of the plant once the last cigarette leaf has sprouted.
Firstly, female flowers appear. These will develop the hands of fruits. While the female flowers develop into fruits, “the distal portion of the inflorescence elongates and produces clusters of male (staminate) flowers, each under a bract. These flowers usually do not develop as fruits and their stamens do not produce pollen”.*
The peduncle is the stem that supports the inflorescence and fixes it to the rhizome. And, more specifically, the part that supports the female and male flowers is known as rachis.
The cluster or bunch is the group of fruits that appear along the rachis. The individual fruits are grouped in hands. By analogy, each individual banana in a hand is called a finger.
From now on, maybe you will call your bananasfingersand ask for a handof bananas at the supermarket, won’t you? 😉
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