The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant. The main or upright stem is actually a pseudostem, growing from a corm, to a height of 6 to 7.6 meters. Leaves are spirally arranged, as long as 2.7 meters and 60 cm wide, fragile and easily torn by wind, with the familiar frond look. Each pseudostem produces a single bunch of bananas; the pseudostem dies after fruiting, as offshoots usually develop from the base of the plant. Each pseudostem produces a single inflorescence, the banana heart, containing many bracts between rows of flowers. The banana fruits develop from the heart, in a hanging cluster made up of tiers (hands), up to 20 fruit to a tier.
Cultivated throughout the Philippines in many varieties.
• Juice of the flower-stem contains potash, soda, lime, magnesia, alumina, chlorine, sulfuric anhydride, silica and carbon anhydride.
• High potassium content - a medium banana contains about 450 mg of potassium. (Because of potassium homeostasis in the body, 40K ingested is balanced by 40K potassium excreted. The net dose of a banana is zero.)
• Preliminary phytochemical screening of fresh steam juice yielded vitamin B, oxalic acid, sulphate, vitamin C, starch, tannin, glycosides, phenolic compounds, gum mucilage.
• Study yielded 6 triterpenes: 6 triterpenes: cyclomusalenol, cyclomusalenone, 24-methylenecycloartanol, stigmast-7-methylenecycloartanol, stigmast-7-en-3-ol, lanosterol, and a-amyrin and eight flavonoids.
- Mineral content and nutritional value of varieties (lakatan, latundan, saba, and bungalan)
showed the carbohydrate content to exceed 25%.
• Demulcent, nutrient, cooling, astringent, antiscorbutic, antifebrile, restorative, emmenagogue, cardialgic, styptic.
• The ripe fruit is laxative, demiulcent, and nutrient.
• Unripe fruit is cooling and astringent.
• Dried fruit considered antiscorbutic.
• Root is antibilious and alterative.
• Juice of the plant is styptic.
• Because of its high potassium content, bananas are naturally slightly radioactive, more than other fruits.
• Good sources of vitamin A, fair sources of vitamin B, and good sources of vitamin C. All are deficient in calcium and phosphorus, and only fair in iron.
• Studies have attributed biologic activities: antiulcerogenic, antidiabetic, antiatherogenic, antidiarrheic, antitumoral, antimutagenic, antihypertensive.
Edibility / Nutritional
- The "puso" (male inflorescence) of saba is extensively used as a vegetable.
- Unripe fruit is sugared and candied.
- Ripe fruits also used in making brandy, rum, and wine.
- Rich in vitamins A, B, and C; a fair source of iron.
• Young leaves used for cool dressing of inflamed and blistered surfaces and as cool application for headaches.
• Powdered roots used for anemia and cachexia.
• Mucilage prepared from seeds used for catarrhal and mild inflammatory forms of diarrhea.
• Juice of tender roots used as mucilage for checking hemorrhages from the genitalia and air passages.
• In China, juice of roots used as antifebrile and restorative.
• Juice of the trunk applied to scalp to increase hair growth and prevent hair from falling.
• In West Africa, used for diarrhea.
• In Gambia, sap of inflorescence used for earaches.
• In French Guiana, flowers used as emmenagogue.
• In the Gold Coast, sap from roots given as enema for diarrhea.
• In Cambodia, Java and Malaya, juice from trunk used for dysentery and diarrhea.
• Juice from flowers, mixed with curds, for dysmenorrhea and menorrhagia.
• Flour made of green bananas used for dyspepsia with flatulence and acidity.
• Ripe fruit, mixed with half its weight in tamarinds and a little salt, is a valuable food in chronic dysentery and diarrhea,
• Cooked flower used for diabetes. Flowers also used as cardialgic.
• Sap of the flower used for earaches.
• In Western Ghat in India, leaves are used for bandaging cuts, blisters and ulcers.
• Ripe bananas combined with tamarind and common salt used for dysentery.
• In traditional medicine in India, used for diabetes.
• In South-Western Nigeria, green fruits used for diabetes.
• Papermaking / Clothing: Plant fibers used in the manufacture of paper and clothes. A related species, Musa textilis (Abaca, Manila hemp) is produced on a commercial scale for its fiber use in the manufacture of paper.
• Wrapping / Cooking: Leaves used for wrapping food for cooking.
• Leaves used for polishing floors, lining pots for cooking rice.
Bunch of bananas with "puso" - male inflorescence.