Bananas can grow up to 25 feet high in their native habitat. They are tropical to semi-tropical plants that grow in the understory of forests. The plant produces an edible fruit that comes from the sterile reproductive system of an unfertilised female flower. Banana trees are cultivated as a popular fruit source. The bunches of fruit are cut off while green to facilitate shipping. They ripen over time. After a stem produces a bunch of fruit, it dies and a new stem sprouts to replace it.
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Bananas grow out of rhizomes, which are specialised storage organs underground. This enables them to spread vegetatively. It also enables them to store extra nutrients, a trait that is beneficial in a forest full of giants. The tree roots of larger trees compete with the banana for moisture and food, so the banana tree's storage ability enables the plant to take advantage of extra rain and organic nutrients. The plants grow quickly and produce rhizomous suckers called pups or buttons. They are easily cut from the parent plant to begin a new banana tree.
The leaves of a banana are large and have a light striping texture. The striping funnels dews into the ground to help maintain the soil moisture. The large leaves are adept at catching sunlight in dappled canopies. Plants require sun to perform photosynthesis. Photosynthesis provides plants with food by converting the sun's light into plant sugars. The constant renewal of leaves is important because of damage in the wild that can limit the plant's ability to gather energy.
The banana is a perennial, which allows it to live for many seasons and extends its opportunities to reproduce. Perennials usually have fewer seeds than annuals, and bananas are more or less without seed. The banana is the fruit, and normally the fruit would hold the seed. The seedless fruit is an adaptation to preserve its reproduction from animals. Since the banana reproduces vegetatively, it has no need to produce a seeded fruit. The sterile male flowers are another adaptation that prevents the plant from fertilising itself and creating seed.
The Root System
The root system of the banana is fibrous and spreading, which helps it hold onto the soil even when laden with fruit. The height of a mature banana requires a wide root system that spreads out up to 18 feet in all directions. This helps with nutrient and water gathering as well. Hybrid bananas in cultivation for their fruit bear too much weight and require staking in spite of the large root system. In the wild, the fruit is much smaller and less frequent.
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