Banana and Plantain (Musa species)
With their familiar fruit, the banana (or Plantain) plants are treelike plants with several large leaves at the top. Their flowers are borne in dense hanging clusters made up of tiers with up to 20 fruit to a tier. Banana plants can grow up to 25 feet tall and are the largest herbaceous flowering plant in the world (technically they are not “trees”). Most of the banana plant’s parts are edible and their waterproof leaves offer many uses in the wild.
Where to Find: Look for bananas and plantains in open fields or margins of forests where they are grown as a crop. They grow in the humid tropics and are native in the tropical South and Southeast Asia..
Edible Parts: Their fruits are edible raw or cooked. They may be boiled or baked. You can boil their flowers and eat them like a vegetable. You can cook and eat the rootstocks and leaf sheaths of many species. The center or “heart” of the plant is edible year-round, cooked or raw.
Other Uses: You can use the layers of the lower third of the plants to cover coals to roast food. You can also use their stumps to get water and the tender core of the banana plant’s trunk is also edible. Being large, flexible, and waterproof, you can use their leaves to wrap other foods for cooking, storage, or as plates..
Interesting Note: Because of their high potassium content, bananas are naturally slightly radioactive.