The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant although its commonly called a tree although the Cavendish plants grow up to a height of only 6 - 8 ft (1.8 - 2.4 m ). Cavendish bananas are named in honor of William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, who acquired an early specimen. They are originally from China and Vietnam. Other common names include Klue Hom Kom, Pisang serendah, Chinese banana, and Canary banana.
Banana plant in front garden at Bayside Villa
The Banana plant grows so quickly it almost seems like it is growing while your watching. If you look closely you will notice a number of smaller off-shoot stalks next to the main stalk. These are called followers or pups and they appear just before the bananas on a particular plant are ripe and ready to harvest. Once the bananas are harvested the plant dies and the follower or pup produces the next bunch of bananas. Since a bunch can weigh nearly 80 pounds it takes quite a few neighbors to consume the bananas.
Bananas can turn from green to yellow overnight
These off-shoots are also called "pups" and after the main plant stalk fruits it will die down, and the next off-shoot in line will grow up, flower, and develop fruit taking its place. So the plant is self perpetuating. You can also severe a small pup from the main plant and plant it somewhere else. So they are easy to propagate. this bunch is over ripe as the bunch should be harvested green for peak flavor.
Purple flower with 1st banana hand developing visible in above picture, look closely
The banana fruits develop from the banana heart, in a large hanging cluster, made up of tiers (called hands), with up to 20 fruit to a tier. The hanging cluster is known as a bunch, comprising 3–20 tiers, or commercially as a "banana stem", and can weigh from 30–50 kilograms (66–110 lb). So 20 tiers x 20 fruit to a tier is 400 Bananas...and that is a lot of Banana's! Individual banana fruit are known as a banana or 'finger'. Once the flower starts to open almost every other day or so another "hand" of bananas is formed. Here the large purple flower has just opened revealing it's first hand.
A hack saw blade or small saw can easily cut hands from the bunch
When several of the bananas start to turn yellow and the edges of the banana fingers change from being sharply defined to a more rounded appearance there ready for you to pick for their final ripening. They usually ripen from the bottom up, so you can cut off a hand or two from the bottom with a knife and they should ripen up and be ready to eat in 3 or 4 days. Of course a large bunch of bananas comprised of many hands can weight over 60 pounds so your going to want to pass them out to the neighbors.