My, oh mai'a! About a year ago, I planted a banana that was given to me by a friend. Into the ground it went, and since then it's been like jack and the beanstalk. This largest herbaceous flowering plant went from about a foot tall to fifteen, with the help of a lot of water, good drainage, and sunshine. The "trunk" is a good thirty inches in diameter. It is not truly a trunk, but a structure called a pseudostem, composed of spirally arranged leaf sheaths arising from an underground stem, or corm. Just this past week, the true stem appeared, pushing its way up through the center of the pseudostem and carrying with it the most magnificent inflorescence, the banana heart. This large, pendant cluster is made up of tiers called hands, each hand consisting of two rows of fingers which are covered by leathery purplish bracts that shed as the fruit develops. In about three months or so, I can expect the first signs of ripening, at which time I'll chop the trunk down. This gives the couple of keiki I have growing from the pohuli, or suckers, the energy and resources they'll need to grow. I'll give a friend the trunk; she uses the fiber in lei-making. And the bananas? I'll be eating those yummy potassium sticks! (banana factoid - the potassium they contain causes them to be slightly radioactive). They're also an excellent source of vitamin B6 and soluble fiber. Prior to the early 1800's, mai'a were forbidden fruit, kapu for women, except for three varieities: popo'ulu, iholena and kaualau, according to the Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database. But today ladies, we're allowed to go bananas.
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.