Many people in the United States have never eaten a cooked banana, but the plantain types are common in tropical countries, which grow many different types of these cooking bananas. Plantains are generally more starchy, and a bit drier, than other varieties such as the "Cavendish," a popular eating banana that is widely grown on a commercial scale.
Like most bananas, the French plantain types grow best in tropical lowlands, which are typically hot and wet. A minimum of 4 inches of rain per month helps this banana grow tall and produce a maximum number of fruit. The French plantain is also called "Hambra," according to IITA.org, which also reports this plantain grows hands of fruit containing small fingers.
The horn variety of plantain produces a scant number of hands of fruit, but the bananas are large. The "African Rhino" plantain is a horn type and serves as a staple food for people in Africa, according to mgonline.com.
Plantains that come from the Philippines are called "Saba." They are typically smaller than other bananas that grow in Central and South America. The saba plantain is resistant to black Sigatoka, a serious leaf-spot disease that afflicts bananas. "Laknau" is the name of one of the saba plantains. It looks much like the horn types, but the quality of the fruit is not as good. Botanists are attempting to hybridize this variety with other plantains such as the pelipita.
Pelipita is one of the most important commercial varieties of plantain, according to Purdue University. The pelipita plantain is resistant to black Sigatoka. It is also favored as a commercial plantain variety because it is resistant to Panama disease, also known as banana wilt. Purdue University describes this disease as a plague that has adversely affected banana plantations in Central America, the Canary Islands and Colombia.
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