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Banana trees are really herbs!

Which is keen, but even more keen is that banana plants are rhizomes:*

A giant perennial herb rather than a tree, the banana plant grows quickly from underground rhizomes (rootstocks) into a 10 to 25 feet tall and wide plant, depending on variety, with dwarfs half the size of regular trees. The trunk (pseudostem) consists of leaf sheaths wrapped around each other. Many suckers come up from the roots, but only one should be allowed to remain, to replace the fruiting trunk after bearing. Large elliptic green or purple leaves can grow as huge as 9 feet tall and 2 feet wide; protect them from wind if you like to see the leaves whole and the tree standing up straight.

Who knew?

And who here remembers Alfred Kahn?

So, now we have the word "banana" -- what are we saying "banana" instead of today?

NOTE * Rhizomic growth being my current metaphor for how a blogosphere without an A list might spread...

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Bryan's picture
Submitted by Bryan on

The current commercial banana is essentially seedless, which is a problem because they can only be grown from existing plants, and something is attacking those plants.

If they get wiped out, all you can do to go back to the original seeded stock and recross, hoping to produce something similar. If you enjoy bananas, enjoy them while you can.

Alfred Kahn was all over the media when he began the process of deregulating the airlines. As you think back to the "golden days" when you had regional airports that offered non-stop flights to places you actually wanted to go, and you could sit in comfort on the plane while eating a meal that actually resembled food, served by someone who seemed to enjoy what they did, you can blame Alfred Kahn for the cattle car conditions under which you currently fly.

Deregulation is always touted as a way to spur competition, and always ends up with a monopoly. Funny how that works.

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

I've been meaning to read Dan Koeppel's Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World but until then I have to settle for this op ed piece by him in the New York Times.

According to Koeppel:

This has happened before. Our great-grandparents grew up eating not the Cavendish but the Gros Michel banana, a variety that everyone agreed was tastier. But starting in the early 1900s, banana plantations were invaded by a fungus called Panama disease and vanished one by one. Forest would be cleared for new banana fields, and healthy fruit would grow there for a while, but eventually succumb.

By 1960, the Gros Michel was essentially extinct and the banana industry nearly bankrupt. It was saved at the last minute by the Cavendish, a Chinese variety that had been considered something close to junk: inferior in taste, easy to bruise (and therefore hard to ship) and too small to appeal to consumers. But it did resist the blight.

Makes you wonder what the Gros Michel was like.

Anyway, even if it's happened before, I still think it's bad if the Cavendish goes extinct, of course.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Which are smaller and available in South Pacific/Australia are much sweeter and taste much better than what we're sold here. It's like they aren't even the same fruit. We came back and saw smaller bananas in the store and got all excited thinking they were the same, but they tasted just like the larger bananas sold here and not like the ones we had over there.