Gignatic monocorpic perennial herb.
Fibrous adventitious root system.
The real stem is underground called rhizome. The apparent, unbranched, errect and areal pseudostem is formed by the long, stiff and sheathy leaf bases which are rolled around one another to form an aerial pseudostem. The central axis that is concealed at the bottom of the pseudostem is called shaft. At the time of flowering, the shaft elongates, pierces through the pseudostem and produces an inflorescence terminally.
Simple with a long and strong petiole. The leaf blade is large and broad with sheathy leaf base. The leaf is extipulate and obtuse.
The pinnately parellel venation extends upto the leaf margin. The phyllotaxy is spiral.
It is branced spadix. The flowers are protected by large, brightly coloured, spirally arranged, boat shaped bracts called spathes. When the flowers open, the spathes roll back and finally fall off.
Brateate, ebractiolate, sessile, trimerous, unisexual or bisexual, when unisexual, the flowers are monoecious. The flowers are zygomorphic and epigynous.
Tepals 6, arranged in two whorls of 3 each. The three tepals of the outer whorl and the two lateral tepals of the inner whorl are fused by valvate aestivation to form 5 toothed tube like structure. The inner posterior tepal is alone free. It is distinctly broad and membranous.
Stamens 6, in two whorls of 3 each, arranged opposite to the tepals. Only 5 stamens are fertile and the inner posterior stamen is either absent or represented by a staminode. Anthers are dithecous and they dehisce by vertical slits. The filament is filiform and rudimentary ovary or pistillode is often present in the male flower.
Ovary inferior, tricarpellary, syncarpous, trilocular, numerous ovules on axile placentation. The style is simple and filiform. The stigma is three lobed.
An elongated fleshy berry and the seeds are not produced in cultivated varities.
1. Food plants
The fruits of Musa paradisiaca (Banana) are edible. The tender green bananas, the shaft and the flowers are cooked and eaten as vegetable. The leaves are commonly used as plates on festive occassions. The sap obtained from the sheathy leaf bases is considered to be an antidote for cobra bite. The small fruits obtained from Musa chinensis (Dwarf banana) are sweet and edible.
2. Fibre plant
The fibres obtained from sheathy leaf bases of Musa textilis (Manila hemp) are woven into Abaca cloth and used for cordage. It is also known as Manila hemp. This plant is extensively grown in Philippines.
3. Ornamental plants
Ravenala madagascariensis (Traveller's palm), Strelitzia reginae (the bird of paradise flower) and Heliconia sp. are grown as ornamentals.
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