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Is a Banana Plant a Herb, Shrub or Tree?

By Tom Don ; Updated July 21, 2017
Banana is a fruit, but the banana plant is a herb.
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According to Purdue University’s Center for New Crops and Plant Products, banana plants are not trees. They are, in fact, large herbs, as they do not have a persistent or woody stem. Although a banana plant has no wooden trunk, it can reach heights of as much as 40 feet, though, making it one of the tallest herbs grown on Earth.


A banana plant does not have a wooden stem, unlike any other trees its height. The base's leaves overlap and intertwine in such a manner that a strong column known as a pseudostem, is formed, which gives support to the plant and its fruits. The leaves of a banana plant are made of leaf blades, leaf stalks and sheaths. Being strong in nature, the pseudostem can independently support the entire weight of the plant.


A banana plant flourishes well in rich, well-drained soil and should be planted in a sunny spot. The plant cannot withstand strong winds and thus must be planted near a south- or southeast-facing wall. If you are living in a flood-prone area, plant it on a raised bed, so that it does not get destroyed due to water-logging.

Fruit vs. Herb

According to Oxford Dictionaries, a banana is a fruit because it contains seeds. The banana plant, however, is an herb because it does not have a trunk, branches or woody tissues.

Herbal Qualities

According to Herb Society of America, an herb has, among other things, potential medicinal and health benefits and industrial and economic uses. Bananas have many healthful qualities, including plenty of potassium and fiber. As far as industrial uses, its fibers are used for weaving ropes, textiles and mats. The tannin of the banana peel acts as a tanning agent in leather processing.


About the Author


Tom Don has been a freelance writer and editor since 2005. He covers topics such as small business, health and fitness for various online publications. Don holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration and Master of Science in website administration from Johns Hopkins University.