The Banana Plant is an Herb

February 9, 2011 at 2:00 am 7 comments

By Kaye Nemec

We’ve learned about the importance of fruits and veggies on the food pyramid since grade school.  We’ve learned that carrots, peas and broccoli are vegetables and apples, pears and strawberries are fruits.

But most of us probably haven’t learned that the banana plant is an herb or that tomatoes, avocadoes, string beans, squash, eggplant, green pepper, okra, green beans, cucumbers and corn kernels are fruits.

Merriam-Webster defines an herb as “a seed-producing annual, biennial, or perennial that does not develop persistent woody tissue but dies down at the end of a growing season.”

Banana plants do not have the typical wood trunk that supports a tree. Its leaves twist and turn around each other to form a stem that can be 12 inches thick and can grow up to 40 feet tall. At the end of each harvest the plants die completely and grow again the next season. The bananas produced by the plant are the fruit of the herb.

A fruit is defined in the botanical world as the part of the plant that bears the seed – therefore putting tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, green peppers and more in the fruit category.

In the legal world, however, vegetables as we know them remain as is – all fruit classifications thrown aside. In the 19th century the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that fruits and vegetables were to be classified according to how they are commonly consumed.

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Photo: Spacemonster

Sources: Merriam-Webster, OChef, Live Science, MyPyramid.gov

Entry filed under: Demystified, Food and Drink. Tags: , , , , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paul  |  February 9, 2011 at 10:55 am

    The Banana Plant is a Herb

    Reply
    • 2. Chad Upton  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      Ya, I thought this would come up. It’s pretty interesting, I actually looked this up before publishing this post. Both “an” and “a” are correct and depending on how you pronounce “herb”, one will sound better than the other to you. But, I chose “an” because it seems like that is more widely accepted in North America.

      “Herb” is a borrowed French word that shares pronunciation with words like honor and hour, where the “h” is generally accepted as silent. Therefore, the vowel sound of “urb” suggests the use of “an”. Wikipedia uses “an” and there is a pretty good explanation of it here:

      http://blog.editage.com/?q=node/14

      Reply
  • 3. Jezebel Spirit  |  February 9, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Technically, the pea is a seed and the pea pod is a fruit, because it contains seeds.

    I read The Fruit Hunters by Adam Gollner, and know more about the difference between fruits and vegetables than most people want to hear. However, I never knew this about bananas–and that’s why I love this site so much.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  • 4. sarahnsh  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    This is very interesting! I don’t eat too many fruits, vegetables, or really herbs either, but I never thought of the banana plant being a herb, I definitely love coming across these little facts I never knew about too!

    Reply
  • 5. Unintentnional Housewife  |  March 15, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Although I do not like bananas (they taste too banana-y to me), this post brought back memories of playing in my grandparents’ yard in Hawaii. They had a banana tree (or bush, perhaps? I never realized that it wasn’t a tree. It looked tree-ish…) there, alongside some lovely flowering plant (hibiscus? How would I know – I was six).

    Being from the Pacific Northwest, I’m used to rain. But I have this really strong memory of playing in the yard, under the green bananas, when it began to rain. Although I’d already learned by that age that I wasn’t going to melt from a little water out of the sky, it’s normally cold enough in Tacoma that we’d go inside when it started to rain. But the rain in Hawaii? Even in November? Beautifully warm.

    Okay – that’s a reallly long-winded comment that really just means to say, “thanks for randomly helping me recall that memory.”

    Thank you!

    Reply
  • 6. Bananas Have More Sugar Than Mars Bars | Broken Secrets  |  November 13, 2013 at 2:02 am

    […] The Banana Plant is an Herb […]

    Reply
  • 7. Nunya Bidness  |  November 26, 2013 at 8:40 am

    A main component in the Hawaiian dish Kalua pork is Banana leaves, it adds a certain flavor much like an herb would

    Reply

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