Why is the scientific name for a banana plant Musa sapienta (i.e. "wise muse" in Latin) and how do banana plants "walk" as claimed on a recent edition of TV's 'QI'?
#40669. Asked by gmackematix. (Nov 02 03 9:15 AM)
Apparently, Alexander the Great encountered sages in India who sat under banana plants during times of meditation and whose diet consisted entirely of bananas. This (probably apocryphal) story inspired Linnaeus to name the banana Musa sapientum, "fruit of the wise men." |
Also SAPIENTUM (= of wise men, used by early botanists to distinguish this Banana, which is better eating, from other species, M.troglodytarum, with inferior fruit considered only fit for troglodytes - cave dwellers!)
The "walking tree".
This tree has no central root as such and it stands on a large number of roots that grow close to or above the ground.
These roots tend to grow more on the side where there is light, and so if, for example, there seems to be more light to the west, more roots will grow on the west side and gradually the plant will move in that direction.
The trees can move up to 15 centimeters a year. This is an example of positive phototropism, that is, the tendency of plants to grow or turn toward light.
Bananas probably do something similar and I presume the direction is usually towards the equator.
"QI" did mention that banana plants had no woody stems so were not trees.|
Incidentally, some say the banana is the best food design for the following reasons:
The packaging is easily gripped by the human hand.
The fruit is nutritious and high-energy.
It is easy to chew and digest.
Most people like the sweet taste.
The packaging is easy to peel and remove.
The colour of the packaging indicates the ripeness of the fruit inside from green through yellow to black.
The packaging is biodegradable.
Basically, bananas plants don't walk, but the pseudostems that grow above the surface don't live very long and may not necessarily grow in the same position each time, so it may seem as if they're walking.
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