Musa paradisiacaPlantain

119.JPG Latin Name: Musa Paradisiaca

Family: Musaceae

Banana classification and nomenclature has always been a complicated issue, however. Karl Linnaeus named the plantain Musa paradisiaca and the dessert banana Musa sapientum, but did not have many samples to look at when naming these. Many cultivars in Southeast Asia have characteristics that are not used to tell the difference between the plantain and the banana, and therefore are very difficult to name. [5]
Figure 1. Diagram showing the various pathways leading to the developmentof edible bananas.

Range and Abundance: Banana species are ecologically demanding. They require high temperatures, abundant moisture, and soil with abundant nutrients. They cannot be grown on the same land for a long time without mineral depletion. [4]

Coloration and Morphology: Musa paradisiaca is actually a large terrestrial herb and is a monocot. [3] It is not a tree as most people would assume.

The root system of the banana are superficial, with a dense mat near the soil surface of adventitious roots. Stems or rhizomes are commonly formed, but do not grow horizontally much.

The conical thick'trunk' of Musa paradisiaca consists of closely fitting leaf sheaths. They overlap so much that they create a sturdy support for the rest of the tree, but it can be felled with one blow from a knife or a machete. [3]

The leaves of species in the Musaceae family are usually shredded along the secondary veins to the midrib and does not cause harm to the plant.[3]The leaves shred like that so that the large leaf blades do not break in storms, high wind, or heavy rainfall.
The leaves are arranged in a spiral and are generally 1.5 to 3 meters lon
bunch of fruit
g, and 0.5 meters wide. [6]

The fruit is green, and is typically larger than the common banana. [6]

The flower inflorescence has flowers in clusters, surrounded by a large bract. Generally, the first 5-15 clusters are female flowers, and the distal clusters are only male flowers. In cultivated bananas, male flowers rarely carry pollen so that their pollination can be controlled. Both male and female flowers secrete nectar abundantly, which attracts wasps, bees, ants, bats, birds, and other insects. [4]028.JPG

It takes about 90 days from the emergence of flowers to the time when the fruit is harvested. [4]

Other species that interact with Musa paradisiaca:
  • Glossophaga soricina, the Nectar Bat, and other members of Glossophaga, are opportunistic feeders, using flowers, fruits, and insects. During the rainy season, Musa (Musaceae) is one fruit which is heavily fed upon in cultivated stands. Many of the moths eaten by Glossophaga are gleaned from these fruits and other fruits and surrounding vegetation. [4]
  • Adult Morpho peleides, Morpho, have been observed feeding on fallen fruits of Musa, among other fruits. [4]

Personal Experience:
typicla banana plantation
In Costa Rica, plantains and bananas are generally grown in large plantations. These were seen in many places while we were driving around. One of the big problems with these plantations is the amount of land needed for them. Unlike Cacao Plantations, which can be grown in the middle of a rainforest, bananas and plantains, if grown in bulk, need to be grown in a monoculture. This means the destruction of acres of precious tropical rain forest.
pollution from banana plantation

Another problem with these plantations is the way the bugs and pathogens are kept from attacking the fruit. Blue plastic bags are placed around the fruit inflorescence to protect it. However, this bag often gets loose and blows away with the wind, polluting nearby rivers and making it dangerous for many animals to live.

Works cited
1. Gill, M.M. 1968. A note on dichotomy of the inflorescence in the plantain (Musa paradisiaca, Linn.). Tropical Agriculture, 45(4):337-341.
3. Jacobs, Marius. The Tropical Rain Forest. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 1998. p 74.
Janzen, Daniel H. . Costa Rican Natural History. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983. p 472-473, 741.
Valmayor, R.V. "Cooking bananas - Classification, production, and utilization in South-East Asia." INFOMUSA, Vol 9 No. 1 June 2000: 28-30.
6."plantain." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 14 Mar. 2010 <>.