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Banana

Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm
bananas

bananas (Photo credit: Fernando Stankuns)

bananas (Photo credit: Fernando Stankuns)

Solmaz Hafezi is banana’s for bananas!

Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red.

Almost all modern edible parthenocarpic bananas come from the two wild species – Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. The scientific names of bananas are Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana or hybrids Musa acuminata × balbisiana, depending on their genomic constitution. The old scientific names Musa sapientum and Musa paradisiaca are no longer used.

Banana is also used to describe Enset and Fe’i bananas, neither of which belong to the aforementioned species. Enset bananas belong to the genus Ensete while the taxonomy of Fe’i-type cultivars is uncertain.

In popular culture and commerce, “banana” usually refers to soft, sweet “dessert” bananas. By contrast, Musa cultivars with firmer, starchier fruit are called plantains or “cooking bananas”. The distinction is purely arbitrary and the terms ‘plantain’ and ‘banana’ are sometimes interchangeable depending on their usage.

They are native to tropical South and Southeast Asia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. Today, they are cultivated throughout the tropics. They are grown in at least 107 countries,primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extent to make fiber, banana wine and as ornamental plants.

Banana tree (Musa x paradisiaca) male inflores...

Banana tree (Musa x paradisiaca) male inflorescence Français : Inflorescence mâle (popote) de bananier (Musa x paradisiaca). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant. The plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy and are often mistaken for trees, but their main or upright stem is actually a pseudostem that grows 6 to 7.6 metres (20 to 24.9 ft) tall, growing from a corm. Each pseudostem can produce a single bunch of bananas. After fruiting, the pseudostem dies, but offshoots may develop from the base of the plant. Many varieties of bananas are perennial.

Leaves are spirally arranged and may grow 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) long and 60 cm (2.0 ft) wide. They are easily torn by the wind, resulting in the familiar frond look.

Each pseudostem normally produces a single inflorescence, also known as the banana heart. (More are sometimes produced; an exceptional plant in the Philippines produced five.) The inflorescence contains many bracts (sometimes incorrectly called petals) between rows of flowers. The female flowers (which can develop into fruit) appear in rows further up the stem from the rows of male flowers. The ovary is inferior, meaning that the tiny petals and other flower parts appear at the tip of the ovary.

The banana fruits develop from the banana heart, in a large hanging cluster, made up of tiers (called hands), with up to 20 fruit to a tier. The hanging cluster is known as a bunch, comprising 3–20 tiers, or commercially as a “banana stem”, and can weigh from 30–50 kilograms (66–110 lb). In common usage, bunch applies to part of a tier containing 3–10 adjacent fruits.

Banana, Plantan සිංහල: කෙසෙල්

Banana, Plantan සිංහල: කෙසෙල් (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Individual banana fruits (commonly known as a banana or ‘finger’) average 125 grams (0.28 lb), of which approximately 75% is water and 25% dry matter. There is a protective outer layer (a peel or skin) with numerous long, thin strings (the phloem bundles), which run lengthwise between the skin and the edible inner portion. The inner part of the common yellow dessert variety splits easily lengthwise into three sections that correspond to the inner portions of the three carpels.

The fruit has been described as a “leathery berry”. In cultivated varieties, the seeds are diminished nearly to non-existence; their remnants are tiny black specks in the interior of the fruit.

Bananas are naturally slightly radioactive, more so than most other fruits, because of their high potassium content, and the small amounts of the isotope potassium-40 found in naturally occurring potassium. Proponents of nuclear power sometimes refer to the banana equivalent dose of radiation to support their arguments.

The genus Musa is in the family Musaceae. The APG II system, of 2003 (unchanged from 1998), assigns Musaceae to the order Zingiberales in the clade commelinids in the monocotyledonous flowering plants. Some sources assert that the banana’s genus, Musa, is named for Antonio Musa, physician to the Emperor Augustus. Others say that Linnaeus, who named the genus in 1750, simply adapted an Arabic word for banana, mauz. The word banana itself might have come from the Arabic banan, which means “finger”, or perhaps from Wolof banaana. The genus contains many species; several produce edible fruit, while others are cultivated as ornamentals.

Banana classification has long been a problematic issue for taxonomists due to the way Linnaeus originally classified bananas as two species based only on their methods of consumption, Musa sapientum for dessert bananas and Musa paradisiaca for plantains. However, this simplistic classification has proved to be inadequate to address the sheer number of cultivars (many of them synonymous) existing in its primary center of diversity, Southeast Asia.

Ernest Cheesman first discovered that Musa sapientum and Musa paradisiaca, described by Linnaeus, were actually cultivars and descendants of two wild and seedy species, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana, both first described by Luigi Aloysius Colla. He recommended their abolition in favor of reclassifying bananas according to three morphologically distinct cultivars – those primarily exhibiting the botanical characteristics of Musa balbisiana, those primarily exhibiting the botanical characteristics of Musa acuminata, and those with characteristics that are the combination of the two.

Photo of four varieties of bananas.

Photo of four varieties of bananas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Photo by Solmaz Hafezi

Researchers Norman Simmonds and Ken Shepherd proposed the genome-based nomenclature system in 1955. This system eliminated almost all the difficulties and inconsistencies of the nomenclature system of bananas based on Musa sapientum and Musa paradisiaca. Despite this, Musa paradisiaca is still recognized by some authorities today, leading to confusion.

Generally, modern classifications of banana cultivars follow Simmonds’ and Shepherd’s system. The accepted names for bananas are Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana or Musa acuminata × balbisiana, depending on their genetic ancestry.

Southeast Asian farmers first domesticated bananas. Recent archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence at Kuk Swamp in the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea suggests that banana cultivation there goes back to at least 5000 BCE, and possibly to 8000 BCE. It is likely that other species were later and independently domesticated elsewhere in southeast Asia. Southeast Asia is the region of primary diversity of the banana. Areas of secondary diversity are found in Africa, indicating a long history of banana cultivation in the region.

Phytolith discoveries in Cameroon dating to the first millennium BCE triggered an as yet unresolved debate about the date of first cultivation in Africa. There is linguistic evidence that bananas were known in Madagascar around that time. The earliest prior evidence indicates that cultivation dates to no earlier than late 6th century CE. It is likely, however, that bananas were brought at least to Madagascar if not to the East African coast during the phase of Malagasy colonization of the island from South East Asia c. 400 CE.

The Buddhist story Vessantara Jataka briefly mentions the banana, the king Vessantara has found a banana tree (among some other fruit trees) in the jungle, that bear bananas the size of an elephant’s tusk.

The banana may have been present in isolated locations of the Middle East on the eve of Islam. There is some textual evidence that the prophet Muhammad was familiar with bananas. The spread of Islam was followed by far-reaching diffusion. There are numerous references to it in Islamic texts (such as poems and hadiths) beginning in the 9th century. By the 10th century the banana appears in texts from Palestine and Egypt. From there it diffused into north Africa and Muslim Iberia. During the medieval ages, bananas from Granada were considered among the best in the Arab world.In 650, Islamic conquerors brought the banana to Palestine. Today, banana consumption increases significantly in Islamic countries during Ramadan, the month of daylight fasting.

Misahuallí - Wild Pink BananasMisahuallí – Wild Pink Bananas (Photo credit: Drriss)

Bananas were introduced to the Americas by Portuguese sailors who brought the fruits from West Africa in the 16th century. The word banana is of West African origin, from the Wolof language, and passed into English via Spanish or Portuguese.

Many wild banana species as well as cultivars exist in extraordinary diversity in New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, and the Philippines.

There are fuzzy bananas whose skins are bubblegum pink; green-and-white striped bananas with pulp the color of orange sherbet; bananas that, when cooked, taste like strawberries. The Double Mahoi plant can produce two bunches at once. The Chinese name of the aromatic Go San Heong banana means ‘You can smell it from the next mountain.’ The fingers on one banana plant grow fused; another produces bunches of a thousand fingers, each only an inch long. —Mike Peed, The New Yorker

Orange Berries Dark Green Leaves By John Taggart b. 1942 John Taggart

Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm
ex of high contrast in these inedible berries

ex of high contrast in these inedible berries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image via Wikipedia

Darkened not completely dark let us walk in the darkened field

trees in the field outlined against that which is less dark
under the trees are bushes with orange berries dark green leaves
not poetry’s mixing of yellow light blue sky darker than that
darkness of the leaves a modulation of the accumulated darkness
orange of the berries another modulation spreading out toward us
it is like the reverberation of a bell rung three times
like the call of a voice the call of a voice that is not there.
We will not look up how they got their name in a book of names
we will not trace the name’s root conjecture its first murmuring
the root of the berries their leaves is succoured by darkness
darkness like a large block of stone hauled on a wooden sled
like stone formed and reformed by a dark sea rolling in turmoil.

John Taggart, “Orange Berries Dark Green Leaves” from Is Music: Selected Poems. Copyright © 2010 by John Taggart. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Source: Is Music: Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2010)

The Town of Berry

Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm
Looking east at Mazomanie, Wisconsin, USA on U...

Looking east at Mazomanie, Wisconsin, USA on U.S. Route 14. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image via Wikipedia

The Town of Berry, a community of rural character and scenic charm, is located in northwest Dane County, Wisconsin, approximately 15 miles northwest of the state capital of Madison. The town is bordered by many other villages and towns—including Cross Plains, Roxbury, Dane, Springfield, Middleton, Black Earth, and Mazomanie—and contains the unincorporated community of Marxville. The town participates in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, the Wisconsin Heights School District, and the Sauk-Prarie School District. The Town of Berry landscape is defined by steep, wooded hillsides and verdant lowlands. In addition to residential and agricultural attractions, the town boasts Dane County’s Festge Park and Indian Lake Park, the Town’s Kahl Halfway Prairie Park, as well as several parts of the National Ice Age Trail. Nearly 1200

Goji Berries

Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm
Nederlands: gedroogde Goji bessen

Nederlands: gedroogde Goji bessen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nederlands: gedroogde Goji bessen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is believed that goji berries were discovered by a doctor during a study of a group of people living deep in the Himalayan mountains.  This society was known for its good health.  In fact, many of the residents lived well into their hundreds with few health problems.  Many didn’t even suffer from grey hair.  He wondered what these people were doing to protect their health so effectively.  Upon further study, this doctor discovered that goji berries grew naturally near the wells from which these residents drank.  Goji berries would fall into the water and infuse it with their health promoting nutrients.  Those living in this village also regularly ate these berries.  It is believed that regular consumption of these berries led to the health and vitality experienced by those in this village. Here are some interesting facts about goji berries:

ORAC testing has revealed that goji berries have antioxidant levels more than ten times higher than blueberries and about three times higher than pomegranates.

Goji berries are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C and iron.  Per ounce, goji berries contain more vitamin C than oranges.

Goji berries may hold benefits for many ailments and conditions.  They are great for the eyes since they contain high levels of beta carotene. They are an excellent choice for immune system support since they contain more vitamin C per ounce than an orange.  Traditionally goji berries have been used to treat liver problems, depression, allergies, insomnia and diabetes.  They may also lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Many people that regularly consume these berries report feeling happier.  In fact, some call the gojiberry the ‘happy berry’.  They also frequently notice an increase in energy and immune function.

Goji berries are easy to eat and delicious as well.  They also are a great source of protein.  Since they contain more than 20 vitamins and minerals, goji berries contain many of the nutrients needed for optimal health and vitality.

They can be enjoyed by the handful when dried, fresh or frozen.  Goji berry juices may also be available.  You can also soak dried berries overnight and then puree in the blender for a make at home goji berry drink.  Goji berries can also be added to smoothies, yogurts, cereals or salads.  Goji berries have a strong and unique flavor.  Many people find that these berries pair excellently with nuts.  Try them with cashews or almonds for a delicious treat.

Of the many superfruits available, goji berries are one of the most revered.  This small red berry has been used in medicine for thousands of years.  It is popular around the world as a tasty way to get more nutrients and antioxidants.

Gathering Berries by Aleria Jensen

Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm
Urera caracasana fruits

Urera caracasana fruits (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Urera caracasana fruits (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gathering Berries by Aleria Jensen Published in the September/October 2007 issue of Orion magazine

I KNEEL IN THE MUSKEG, bucket between my legs, cushion of sphagnum moss crimson beneath my rubber boots. My fingers follow an old pattern: pluck, twist, plop into the bucket. Among the browning skunk cabbage beneath the jack pines, clusters of bunchberry announce fall’s arrival like splashes of wine. Nearby my brother leans into the hillside.

I have picked blueberries on this island for as long as I can remember. Before me—mother, father, grandmother. A hundred years, and every year the berries bring their summer glow to our freezers, our ovens, our plates.

The search image for berries lies deep in my body, wherever such inclinations reside. Scan the meadow, the forest edge, the avalanche chutes. Highbush or lowbush? Blueberry or black huckleberry? Wrinkled and wormy or a plump, perfect, purple sphere? My eyes don’t even pause on the empty bushes. Scan left, right. Up ahead—jackpot. A loaded bush, heavy with fruit. Bend over, pick till your back hurts. Fall to your knees, pick. Stretch. Sink back down. The harvest is deeply satisfying, an old rhythm of provisioning for winter, of sharing in what the land has to offer. I am slowed into meditations on the shape of leaves, the rising scent of earth, the gradual cycle of ripening. This is one of the great traditions of my life.

Today, half the berries I touch dissolve beneath my fingers, the water-logged spheres spitting soggy grains from their skins. This has been southeast Alaska’s wettest summer in thirty years. Many of us in the rainy capital city have spent a good deal of time and conversation feeling sorry for ourselves, owing to the particular lack of sunshine this year. And now fall has come, light is waning, water has gotten to the berries. Grumbling, I mutter to my brother about the sodden mush I keep picking. He replies, “The land just gives and gives and gives, and all we do is show up.” Looking up from a bush, he adds, “I think they’re in exceptional condition, given everything they’ve been through.”

I continue to pick and realize he is right. All we do is show up. Wake up, drink our coffee, jump in the car, head for these boggy slopes. Expect the land to provide. And it does. Despite the soggy ones, there are plenty of good berries. Plenty for us, for bears and birds and insect larvae. Plenty for muffins, pancakes, and smoothies. Even if it takes longer to fill our buckets, if some fruits are saturated, if we slip and slide and have to hold our pails high above the dripping branches. It’s part of living among wilderness, in a rainforest. Part of why we love it here.

I find myself feeling a huge gratitude, not only for what the land shares, but what it endures. Given everything they’ve been through. Mid-September, cold mists, no sun by which to ripen, berries still hanging on. I think about the story line leading to each fruit. The poor drainage and low nutrients that give rise to the muskeg. The perennial ericaceous shrub surviving winter temperatures and darkness. The pink blossom opening in April or May. The dusting of pollen that must be exchanged, the hovering of bumblebees and hummingbirds. Each fruit an evolution.

At the end of the day, covered in mud, tongues purple, we tramp down through fog and reddening moss. We stop to pop berries into our mouths, last tastes for the day. These tart ones, so different from the sweet domesticated ones sold by the pint at the supermarket. Within it, each fruit holds what I hold: an accumulation of place. The tangy explosion of these northern berries on the tongue is the landscape communicating itself, an expression of its essential wild character. Taste me—here is your peat moss, your snowmelt, your glacial till. Here is your hemlock root, your jack pine, your overwintering bee. Taste me