The Banana Plant is an Herb
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.