Bananas come from banana plants, an herbaceous perennial that grows quickly. They are native to Indo-Malaysia, but are now grown all over the world in tropical and sub-tropical regions as one of the largest cash crops on the market. Banana plants need warm weather to bear fruit, as it takes 10 to 15 months for the plant just to produce a flower stalk. Once the banana has a flower stalk the female flowers bear banana fruit, much like that seen in the grocery store. Interestingly, bananas are classified as a berry and not a fruit.
While most bananas have yellow skin, that is just because the yellow banana is the most common type of banana on the market. Bananas come in other colors besides yellow. There are red and brown bananas, as well as green cooking bananas.
The fruit inside the skin of the banana also comes in a range of colors from yellow to pink. Bananas with pink fruit are healthier than the yellow varieties.
The yellow bananas you find in the grocery store do not have large seeds. Banana seeds are the tiny black dots in the center of the banana and they are sterile. However, wild bananas have large rock-like seeds that take up most of the inside of the fruit. Modern banana cultivars have been bred to have small sterile seeds so they are easier to eat.
Bananas can range in size from 6 cm to 40 cm. The smallest bananas are called apple bananas and they are only 6 to 8 cm long. The largest bananas are cooking bananas that range from 30 to 40 cm long. Normal yellow bananas are usually 15 to 30 cm long.
Two general types of banana fruit exist: dessert bananas and cooking bananas. Most yellow bananas, red bananas and brown bananas found in Western grocery stores are dessert bananas. They have sweet flesh and can be eaten raw. Cooking bananas are the largest type of banana and they must be cooked before they can be eaten.
Bananas grow in large bunches at the top of the banana plant.