Although not native to the Americas, we came upon a banana tree, bearing both blooms and bananas, growing at an abandoned ruin in Solstice Canyon, which is located in the Santa Monica Mountains. The brilliant red high up in the treetops caught our attention and we were amazed to see the cluster of bananas along the stem of the inflorescence. The red bracts are not petals; new flowers emerging are the yellow curly blooms peaking between the opening bracts.
Did you know that bananas are technically speaking a berry? Botanists define a berry as a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit, where the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp and the seeds become embedded in the flesh of the ovary. One banana inflorescence produces 50 to 150 bananas! Blueberries and cranberries are also examples of a true berry.
The tomato graphic above illustrates the pericarp, the fleshy edible part surrounding the seeds. You will most likely not see any seeds in a commercially grown banana because they are cloned from a single cultivar, the ‘Cavendish,’ which also makes them highly susceptible to disease and a potential mass die-off.
Every morning while visiting Liv and Matt, Liv made deliciously healthy smoothies combining bananas, spinach, avocado, and whatever other fruit and veggie were on hand. That’s how we began our Solstice Canyon day hike and I was glad to have had the power-packed breakfast. As you can see, we encountered beautiful and enchanting wildlife along the trail.
Wild banana image courtesy wiki; tomato graphic courtesy Wayne’s Word.