Is a banana really an herb and not a fruit?
#96522. Asked by HannahxBanana. (Jun 10 08 1:39 PM)
A banana is both an herb and a fruit.|
A banana (the yellow thing you peel and eat) is undoubtedly a fruit (containing the seeds of the plant), though since commercially grown banana plants are sterile, the seeds are reduced to little specks. However, the banana plant, though it is called a 'banana-tree' in popular usage, is technically regarded as a herbaceous plant (or 'herb'), not a tree, because the stem does not contain true woody tissue.
Although referred to as banana trees, they are not trees at all but a perennial herb. Its trunk is not a true one, but many leaves tightly wrapped around a single stem which emerges at the top as the fruit-bearing flower stalk.
The fruit fingers grow in clumps known as hands, since they resemble a hand with fingers. The entire stalk, known as a bunch, takes up to a year for the fruit to ripen enough to be harvested.
The original stem dies after producing fruit, but sideshoots rise from the same underground corm to produce a new plant to be harvested the following year. The fruit itself is sterile, unable to produce a plant from the miniscule dark seeds within.
Some banana trees continue producing up to one hundred years, although most banana plantations renew their stock every ten to twenty-five years.
The tree itself also has uses. The leaves are used as wrappers to steam foods in Latin, Caribbean, and Asian cultures. The banana flower is also edible, but if you eat the flower, you obviously won't get any fruit.
The term fruit has many different meanings depending on context. In botany, a fruit is the ripened ovary -— together with seeds —- of a flowering plant. In many species, the fruit incorporates the ripened ovary and the surrounding tissues. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants disseminate seeds.|
In cuisine, when food items are called "fruit", the term is most often used for those plant fruits that are edible and sweet and fleshy, examples of which include plums, apples and oranges. But in cooking, the word fruit may also rarely be loosely applied to other parts of a plant, such as the stems of rhubarb, which are made into sweet pies, but which are not botanically a fruit at all.
Although the word fruit has limited use in cooking, in reality a great many common vegetables, as well as nuts and grains, are botanically speaking, the fruits of various plant species. No single terminology really fits the enormous variety that is found among plant fruits. The cuisine terminology for fruits is quite inexact and is likely to remain so.
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