We know that banana is one of the most nutrient-dense fruits in the world. It’s also one of the richest sources of potassium. But how well do you know the humble banana? In today’s post, we are listing down interesting facts about bananas you probably didn’t know about:
1. Banana Fruits are Clones
There are thousands of wild banana varieties. But did you known 99% of bananas sold in your local grocery are genetically identical to a single variety of banana? This variety is called the Cavendish species. Specifically, the original banana is from the Gros Michel variety. This variety is supposed to taste better. But a single fungus wiped out all crops from the Gros Michel variety. So what did we do? We brought the old species back by breeding what’s left of Gros Michel’s seeds. This is how Cavendish species came to be.
Result of this breeding is the black spots on the center of the banana. The bananas were bred so much that the fruits no longer bear seeds, just specks. Despite the successful breeding of a Gros Michel substitute, there is no variety of the banana plant that is a better replacement for the Cavendish. Most varieties of bananas are unpalatable or lack bananas’ sweet taste.
2. It Could Be Wiped Out Anytime
Here’s a grim truth about banana: the species could disappear any time. The same killer fungi that obliterated the Gros Michel species could come and destroy the banana clones. The Cavendish variety is under the constant danger of being destroyed. All it takes is a single outbreak to wipe out the Cavendish variety for good. In such case, we go back to square one: cloning the bananas.
3. It’s a Berry
Botanically, a banana is a berry. This explains why banana’s center is similar to a kiwi. Both are classified as berries. Even stranger, the banana tree is not really a tree at all. It’s actually an herb. So the fruits are berries but the trunks are herbs, a unique combination indeed!
4. Bananas are Radioactive
You’ll never look at bananas the same way again. Bananas are so rich in potassium, they are mildly radioactive. Specially, bananas contain potassium-40. Potasium-40 is a radioactive isotope of potassium. In high level, this compound becomes radioactive. This strange trait is shared by potatoes and Brazil nuts. Kidney beans and other nuts are mildly radioactive too. To make things even stranger, most animals can see in the ultraviolet range of the spectrum. That’s why they know immediately which bananas to choose before eating it.
5. Banana “Tree” is the Largest Herb in the Planet
Botanically, banana plant is classified as a herbaceous flowering plant. It also happens to be the largest of its kind! Also, bananas do not grow on its trees. Instead, they grow from a root structure. This root structure is developed on an above-ground stem.
The banana fruits are produced from the plant’s corm. Corm is the round, brown growth that develops near the leaves of banana “trees.” When you open the corm, you will see small, undeveloped bananas shooting out.