The banana “tree” is actually not a real tree. This is because there is no wood in the stem rising above the ground. The stem is made up of leaves growing very close together, one inside the other. The leaves spread out at the top of the stem and rise in the air, making the plant look like a palm tree.
To grow bananas, pieces of rootstock (bits cut from the base of growing plants) are planted in holes about 30 cms deep and 3.3 to 5.5 meters apart. Each pièce of rootstock must have one or more sprouts, or “eyes,” like the eyes of a potato. Green shoots appear above the ground three or four weeks later. Only the strongest shoot is allowed to become a plant. This plant forms its own rootstock, from which other plants later grow up beside the first one.
Banana plants need a lot of care and attention. They must be provided with water by irrigation if the normal rainfall doesn’t supply enough. The area around the plants must be kept free of weeds and grass.
About nine or ten months after planting, a flower appears on the banana plant. This flower is at the end of a long stalk, which grows from the base up through the center of the stem and turns downward when it emerges from the top. Small bananas form on this flower stalk as it grows downward. Bananas really grow upside down. As the small bananas form on the stalk, they point downward, but as they grow they turn and point upward.
Bananas are harvested while they are still green. Even when they are to be eaten where they are grown, they are not allowed to ripen on the plant. A banana that turns yellow on the plant loses its flavor.