Bananas and plantains are very similar in appearance, but their tastes couldn't be more different from one another. Bananas are soft, sweet, and great for baking, while plantains are more firm and have a very starchy flavor that makes them favorable to use in exotic recipes. While the leaves on plantain and banana plants are colored similarly, they are slightly varied in shape and have a few other telltale signs differentiating the two.
Observe the plant's leaves. While the colors of the leaves on both plantain and banana plants vary, you can sometimes tell which is which by checking out the shape. Plantain leaves are similarly shaped to shoe soles, while banana leaves tend to be longer, more tubular and sometimes even sword-shaped.
Check the appearance of the fruit on the plant. Bananas are yellow when ripe and are an average of 6 inches long. Plantains are green or black and are an average of 12 inches long.
Hold the fruit from the plant in your hand to feel the texture. Bananas are softer with medium-thick skin, while plantains are very firm and have tough, thick skin.