Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Banana- Musa species

Musa sp

The banana. What an amazing plant. It’s up there with coconuts and bamboo as being one of the plants with the most varied uses in the world. It provides nutritious food, natural packaging, plates, umberellas, medicine,mulch and so much more. What more could you ask from a plant?

Musa species
Banana, Pisang, Plantain, Saba

Herbaceous perennial often grown as an annual. This plant can grow up to 7m.
Leaves spirally arranged around pseudostem, pinnate venation.
Widely cultivated throughout the world, this plant prefers warm climates, full sun and abundant moisture.
Flowers  My plants are fruiting atm (July)
Fruits   My plants have fruit atm
Sap permanently stains clothing
Fruit raw or cooked
Leaf used to cook food in
Medicinal Uses
Headaches, Alopecia, Burns, Bites, Cancer, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Diarrhoea, Fever, Dyssentry, Fractures, Gangrene, Migraine, Nausea and more

The banana plant has been in cultivation for many years, and the cultivated variety is sterile, producing no seed. The wild bananas that still grow in tropical-subtropical countries produce numerous seed.
Fruit is edible cooked in its green immature stage, or either raw or cooked in its yellow mature stage. The colour of the skin varies with the type of banana, with ‘Blue Java/Ash Plantain’ having a distinct blue tinge to the immature fruit (although ripe fruit is still yellow), and ‘Red Dacca’ having a permanent deep red/maroon skin (although the inside flesh is deep yellow to orange).
'Saba' variety

'Saba' Left; 'Ladyfinger' Middle; 'Cavendish' Right

'Ladyfinger' Left; 'Saba' Right

One of my favourite bananas for flavour and texture is what I think is called ‘Saba’, although I am not sure. It can be eaten raw when ripe, or cooked when green. Simply peel the green bananas, boil, mash, mix with grated ginger, garlic and eschallot/onion, form into cakes and pan fry. Delicious. Cooked green banana tastes somewhat like cooked potato.
Flesh of the Saba banana is a rich warm yellow colour

Peel and chop

Add to pan of hot water

Boil until softish

Add grated garlic, ginger, onion then mash

Shape into cakes, fry


Musa has medicinal qualities also, with the whole plant being used in some way. The root has been as anthelmintic (to kill intestinal worms) and for reducing bronchocele. The fruit is eaten to prevent and cure stomach ulcers, in combination with pineapple, blueberries, cloves, ginger and cinnamon. The peel and pulp of ripe banana have both antifungal and antibiotic activity, and the unripe banana fruit has antimicrobial/antibiotic activity  (Fagbemi et al, 2009).
A stem maceration is given orally for the treatment of diabetes in Cuba, also a decoction of the root is given orally for the treatment of unspecified venereal diseases. The same paper reports an unusual method of treating earache, that of frying the leaves and applying topically (Cano & Volpato, 2004).
Musa paradisiacal has been used to treat alopecia (female), headache, burns, bites (snake, dog, spider), cancer (nose), diarrhoea, dysentry, epilepsy, fever, fractures, gangrene, migraines, nausea, smallpox and numerous other diseases. Finding details of how the remedies were prepared for each specific ailment is extremely time consuming, as it involves trawling through vast numbers of journal articles, but as I find records of use, I will add them here. If you have a particular query, just leave a comment and I will see what I can find.

Young plant grown from tissue culture

Young plants


Cano, J. & Volpato, G. Herbal mixtures in the traditional medicine of Eastern Cuba. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 90:293-316
Fagbemi, J., Ugoji, E., Tayo, A. & Adelowotan, O. 2009. Evaluation of the antimicrobial properties of unripe banana (Musa sapientum L.), lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus S.) and turmeric (Curcuma longac L.) on pathogens. African Journal of Biotechnology  8 (7): 1176-1182


  1. Wonderful website, great design and interesting content.


  2. Great website!
    I would love to try those banana fritters they look awesome!