Characteristics of the Banana Fruit

Banana fruits are healthy, colorful and are easy to eat. The banana fruit comes from a tropical herbaceous plant. About 10 to 15 months after a new plant emerges, a stalk will grow from the center of the plant. On this stalk will be a terminal inflorescence which bears the fruit. Different varieties can have different characteristics.

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Banana fruits vary in size, shape and positioning.

Fruit Skin Colors

Unripe bananas are green or deep green, and as they mature, they can turn yellow, red or green-and-white striped. Other banana colors include purple and blue. The skin of the red banana when ripe is flecked with dark spots. Overripe banana skins turn brown or black, and the fruit is mushy.

Fruit Sizes and Shapes

The banana fruit varies in size and shape, depending on the variety. One example is the Pisang lilin variety, which has a small bunch of S-shaped fruits. Immature bananas will not necessarily have the typical rounded shape and may be angular. Bananas can range in size from 2 ½ inches to 12 inches in length and ¾ inch to 2 inches in width.

Position

Banana fruits typically grow in bunches. However, bunches may hang down, sideways, in a single row or point upward.

Ornamental Fruits

The flesh of some bananas is not edible primarily due to the presence of seeds. These banana plants are considered to be ornamental.

Edible Fruits

The flesh of edible bananas may vary in sweetness and texture. It is can be white, yellow or salmon-yellow colored. Cultivated types are generally seedless. There are two types of edible bananas: dessert and cooking. Dessert bananas are eaten fresh, fried or baked and are used in salads, compotes, desserts, ice creams and puddings. Cooking bananas are starchier. Uncooked cooking bananas are not very good to eat. Cooking bananas are generally fried or baked.

Nutritional Value

Bananas, according to the Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition, are good sources of fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Bananas contain no fat, cholesterol or sodium and are low in calories.

Ripening Fruit

Bananas are harvested when they have reached their full size and color and are rounded. The color may be green, yellow, red or blue. Ethylene oxide, necessary for ripening, is given off by bananas as they ripen. Bananas harvested green will ripen more quickly if the bananas are placed in a bag. This increases the ethylene oxide surrounding the bananas and speeds up the ripening process.To protect developing fruit from cool weather outside, cover the bunch with a blue plastic bag and tie it in place.

Development and Maturation

According to Julian Sauls, a Texas Extension Horticulturist, after the banana plant flowers, the bracts of the flower roll back and split to reveal a hand of bananas. The first hands are the usually from the seedless females flowers. There may be up to 20 fruit and between 5 and 20 hands per spike. Fruits mature approximately 60 to 90 days after the first flowers appear. However, once a banana stalk bears its fruit, it will not produce fruit again.