The banana (genus Musa, family Musaceae) is a giant herb related to the orchid, lily, and palm family. (No, it's not a tree.) It's a perennial which grows in warm, humid tropical climates every year from a gnarled, fleshy rhizome which has many buds, like the eyes of a potato. The plant develops leafy stalks with massive leaves that can be 30 feet long, making the banana the largest plant on earth without a woody stem.

Once a stalk has matured, a flowering stem emerges and develops a large bud. Each leaf of the bud unfolds to reveal a double row of tiny flowers, each of which becomes a banana fruit (actually a berry), which is also called a finger. Each row has about 15 to 30 fingers to make up a hand. One stem typically develops 7 to 10 hands of bananas in a one-year period.

On plantations, after the hands are harvested, the plant is cut back, and other stalks develop from the fleshy tuber that is the rhizome. Banana plants can grow from the same rhizome for more than 100 years. Interestingly, these cultivar bananas are triploid, that is, they contain three sets of chromosomes, and are generally seedless and sterile. This means that breeding new cultivars, for example with immunity to banana pests and diseases, is more difficult than it would be with normal diploid plants. Diploid bananas are rare except in Southeast Asia.

Bananas are one of the largest fruit crops in the world, but unlike other fruits, are best picked green and allowed to ripen off the plant; when green, they are very astringent, but most varieties are sweet and soft when ripe. Ideally, bananas should be bought when slightly green at the tips (if you like them not-so-ripe, like me), or yellow with a few tiny brown specks on the skin. Dark marks indicate bruising; avoid those.

To ripen, store uncovered at room temperature, or to speed ripening, put them in a paper bag for a day or two. If they are already ripe, you can store them in the refrigerator; the skin will blacken, but the flesh will remain unchanged.

Chiquita Banana claims that bananas are the perfect food: one banana has about 100 calories, but no fat, cholesterol, or sodium. Bananas are high in fibre, vitamin B6, and potassium.

There are hundreds of banana species; the one I grew up with is Cavendish, a long plump variety. But I was amazed when I lived in Thailand to discover that the Thai consider these inferior bananas, not worth eating. They have tiny delicious finger bananas, as well as a short fat variety which contains big black seeds; these were my favourite. And there's lots more. My Food Lover's Companion mentions a squat square burro banana with a tangy flavour (this could be my Thai one); the blue java banana, with a blotchy silverish skin; the red banana; the strawberry-apple-flavoured manzano, which has black skin when it's ready to be eaten; the little Indian variety mysore, and the strawberry-flavoured orinoco.

And I must also mention plantains, which are a large firm less sweet variety of banana popular in many parts of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. These big babies can be green or yellow or even brown-skinned; the flesh can be ivory to salmon coloured. Plantains are usually cooked when green, and are less sweet and more fibrous than other types bananas.

Bananas are quite versatile. They can be eaten raw or baked, roasted, flambeed, dipped in batter and deep fried (a snack I often enjoyed in Thailand); they can also be dried and made into banana chips, or ground into flour. Bananas make a good quick bread, muffin, ice cream, cream pie, and even a sauce.

The leaves of the banana are useful as well. In Asian and Latin America they are often used to wrap foods such as sticky rice, meat, or fish for baking or steaming. You can often find banana leaves frozen in Asian markets; cut off the appropriate sized piece, and be sure to wash both sides of the leaf well before using. Banana leaves make exotic and attractive serving dishes as well. Some banana varieties are not grown for food at all, but for fiber from the leaves and stems.

I guess I should mention that the shape of the banana makes it an obvious phallic symbol.

I found out much of the information on how bananas grow from

If you're interested in learning more about international solidarity with banana workers, and getting a less rosy view of Chiquita, visit the Banana Action Net at

For information on the environmental impact of banana plantations, why not go to Banana Link at

If it's banana memorabilia you're after, go to the Washington Banana Museum at

See also the truth about Chiquita bananas

Slang: an asian-american who seems to forget their asian heritage. they are often shunned by the pack-o-asians in their community, and rarely date someone who shares their ethnic background.


Extreme form of NIMBY (or nimbyism), which envisages that any necessary development which is even vaguely undesirable, such as roads, railways, housing, landfills, prisons etc. etc. should be built in some alternate dimension in order to avoid it having any impact whatsoever on anybody who lives anywhere.

A brief note on the peeling of a banana.
Inspired by the banana from Ecuador before me

A bunch of bananas in the market is called a hand, I guess the 'wrist' would then be the common stem the bananas share. Generally we tend to break the banana off the hand and peel from the stem.

But what of bananas that are still a little green at the top?

let them ripen.

But I need potassium NOW

One solution is to go fetch a knife and saw away at the top of the banana, the other solution is to do what monkeys do. Peel from the bottom. Embed your thumbnail under the end and pull up. Since bananas ripen from the bottom up you will almost always be able to peel your bananas this way.

Whether or not monkeys really peel that way, I haven't a clue. Andy told me, and believing him is easier than looking it up.
tee hee
"Knock, knock."

"Who's there?"


"Banana, who?"

"Knock, knock."

"...Who's there?"


"Banana, who?"

"Knock, knock!"

"Oh, for Christ's sake..."

"C'mon! Knock, knock."

"Who's there?"




"I'm going to kill you. I'm going to actually kill you."

"Knock, knock!"

"Fuck you."

"Knock, knock."

"Who's there?"


", who?"

"Orange you glad I didn't say 'banana'? Ha ha ha ha ha!"

"I'm never speaking to you again."

I've seen very young children tell this joke innumerable times. The funniest part about it is that, most of the time, they tell it wrong.

Alfred Kahn, an economic advisor to Jimmy Carter, upset the president and his cabinet by stating that the country’s huge inflation could lead to a recession, or even "deep, deep depression." He was chastised for this assessment and told that words like "recession" have a very negative connotation and poor political implications. Unfazed, Kahn told the cabinet that he would use the word banana instead, as in "Between 1973 and 1975 we had the deepest banana that we had in 35 years." However, after banana companies started to complain he changed the word to kumquat.


Monkeys are fantastic. Why are monkeys fantastic? Because bananas are hella tight yo.

Apart from the stuff everyone else mentioned, bananas are currently the most popular fruit in North America. I heard on the radio the other day that the average American eats 25 lbs of bananas per year. I probly eat like 150.

Bananas apparently are wonder fruits, more so than the overrated apple "doctor-a-day" crap, cause bananas can help cure a whole slew of diseases. And BTW, 'banan' in Arabic means 'finger'.

Depression - bananas got tryptophan, which boosts serotonin levels in your body, which makes you happy.

Anemia - They also have high iron content, which helps with hemoglobin production in yo bloodstream.

Nervousness - Tote 'n' snarf a banana before your next job interview. High amounts of vitamin B-complex help calm your nerves.

Stupidity - I'm serious. The high potassium levels contribute to alertness are supposed to boost your brain-power.

Ugliness - Yup. The Body Shop uses some 250,000 bananas in their products every year. Mashed bananas can relieve dry skin, exfoliate skin (blended with cosmetic clay), condition hair (blend with few drops almond oil), or moisturize hands (slap in 2 pats butter).

Constipation - Yes folks, bananas can even help you poop with their high fiber content.

Being Filipino, I ate (and eat) bod-bod, which is some kind of rice with coconut oil, wrapped in the leaves of, you guessed it, the banana plant. There's also a species of banana that's small and red, though I haven't tried it.

I also have a banana story. So when my dad was around 12, he lived in the Philippines. At his house, his parents had hired servants, who would usually do the shopping at market or whatever. One day, one of the servants brought home this funky species of banana that my dad hadn't seen before. That very day, my dad had been brushing up on his English vocabulary and was learning the term, "hoi polloi," which means the common people, or the masses - and if you are at all familiar with dialects of Filipino, you'll know that 'hoi polloi' sounds a lot like a filipino word despite having Greek roots. ANYWAY, he sees this weird banana. His dad (my grandfather) comes home and stumbles upon this funky banana bunch and says, "I've never seen this kind before. What is this banana called?" After thinking hard, my dad replies, "Uhh.. Hoi polloi."

To this day, my grandfather has never been informed as to the real name of the mysterious hoi polloi banana. I hope I go shopping in the Philippines a few years from now and find some bananas at a stand labeled 'Hoi polloi.'

Ba*na"na (?), n. [Sp. banana, name of the fruit.] Bot.

A perennial herbaceous plant of almost treelike size (Musa sapientum); also, its edible fruit. See Musa.

⇒ The banana has a soft, herbaceous stalk, with leaves of great length and breadth. The flowers grow in bunches, covered with a sheath of a green or purple color; the fruit is five or six inches long, and over an inch in diameter; the pulp is soft, and of a luscious taste, and is eaten either raw or cooked. This plant is a native of tropical countries, and furnishes an important article of food.

Banana bird Zool., a small American bird (Icterus leucopteryx), which feeds on the banana. -- Banana quit Zool., a small bird of tropical America, of the genus Certhiola, allied to the creepers.


© Webster 1913.

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