Bananas originated from Southeast Asia. Some species of bananas are grown specifically for fruit whereas some are grown as ornamental plants or for fiber.
Fact 1. To consumers in the American market, the banana fruit refers to the yellow banana consumed raw or the plantain referring to the larger, green banana used for cooking. In other parts of the world, especially Asia, bananas are differentiated by their usage for desserts or for the main meal.
Fact 2. The banana plant is a large herb not a tree with a soft stem or more definitely termed as a pseudostem. The growth of the plant is through the development of suckers springing from the main plant forming a clump of banana trees.
Fact 3. Edible bananas, which originated in the Indonesian-Malaysian region, were first known around 3 B.C. and seen around Europe in 10 A.D. During the 16th century, the Portuguese introduced bananas to South America from West Africa.
Fact 4. Today, bananas constitute the fourth largest fruit crop in the world after the grape, citrus fruits, and the apple. The world production of bananas is estimated to be around 28 million tons with the major producers being Latin America (65%), Southeast Asia (27%), and Africa (7%).
Fact 5. The Polynesians have a method of preserving large quantities of bananas in the ground as a safeguard against famines. Peeled bananas are stored in underground pits with intermittent Heliconia leaves and banana leaves placed on top. The pit is left unopened until the fermented food called masi is consumed.
Fact 6. In Africa, ripe bananas are made into beer and wine.
Fact 7. The bud of the banana tree is used in culinary dishes in Southeast Asia. The soft interior stem of the banana tree is also used in Southern Asia for making curries.
Fact 8. The traditional dinner plates of Southern India and Southeast Asia were banana leaves. The leaves are known to emit a nice fragrance when in contact with hot food and are easily disposed of post-dining. There are restaurants which specialize in banana leaf cuisines.
Fact 9. The banana plant is considered a symbol of fertility due to the multitude of bananas in a clump. In the Hindu tradition, the banana plant is used in fertility rites and is placed at the entrance of temples or residences to signify fertility.
Fact 10. Bananas are considered effective for settling an upset stomach. The high content of potassium assists in replacing lost electrolytes, and the soluble fiber, called pectin, absorbs liquids in the intestine. Bananas also contain inulin which is a prebiotic.