The bananas ripen after harvest

Bananas

An ancient plant

Scientists consider the banana to be one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. The banana originally comes from Southeast Asia, countries like Thailand and Malaysia. From there the fruit reached the Arab region via India. Arab traders eventually brought them to Africa and Europe.

It was not until the 15th and 16th centuries that the banana came to America with Spanish and Portuguese sailors. The banana got its name from the Arabs. They called them "banan", which translates as "finger".

Unknown variety of bananas

There are more than 1000 known types of bananas. However, many varieties are unknown in Europe. Most of them do not even make it onto the world market, but are consumed directly on site.

A distinction is made between fruit, vegetable and textile bananas. In Europe, the fruit banana as we know it from the supermarket is mainly known.

Vegetable bananas are a staple food, especially in Africa and parts of Asia. They have about the same status there as we do with potatoes. Textile bananas are not suitable for consumption. The leaves are used to make textiles.

From a botanical point of view, the banana belongs to the berries, just like the cucumber, the tomato or the pumpkin. In botany, berries are understood as a fruit that has emerged from a single ovary and encloses the seeds of the plant. Both vegetable plants and fruit plants develop berries.

Perennial with yellow fingers

A banana tree grows to between three and six, rarely up to nine meters. During the growth phase, the older leaves wrap themselves around each other and thus form a pseudo-stem. Over time, the plant looks more and more like a palm.

After about six months the plant will develop the inflorescence. In addition to a large, mostly red male flower, there are numerous yellow or white female flowers. The fruits, also called fingers, are made from them. During the growth phase, the fingers bend upwards, which results in the typical curvature of the banana.

The bananas can be harvested after about one to one and a half years. Since banana plants only produce fruit once in their life, the entire mother plant is cut off during harvest. However, a sprout has already formed at its roots that will secure the next banana harvest. Up to 300 fruits can hang on a banana tree.

Plantation cultivation

The monoculture on the banana plantations means that pests of all kinds can spread quickly. Fungal diseases such as Panama disease and Black or Yellow Sigatoka are particularly threatening to the populations.

Chemicals are used in many places to control diseases and pests. This not only harms nature but also endangers the health of the plantation workers.

An intensively managed banana plantation can only be kept for a certain period of time. The banana needs a lot of nutrients to grow, so the soil will soon be depleted. A new plantation therefore usually has to be created after around 20 years.

Bananas provide energy

The banana contains a lot of fructose and provides the body with a similar amount of energy as the potato. It has a high content of minerals such as potassium and contains vitamins A, B, C and E. Many diet powders contain a dry substance from bananas.

The ingredients of the fruit have a healing effect, especially on the gastrointestinal area. The banana prevents the stomach from becoming too acidic. The fruit also has a positive effect on a person's brain: the amino acid tryptophan stimulates the production of the happiness hormone serotonin. However, it has not been scientifically proven whether eating bananas makes you happy.