Categories
BLOG

where is the seed in a banana

Where is the seed in a banana

The most common banana is called the Cavendish.

Most of the fruits we eat contain a seed of some sort. Mangoes have giant pits, apples have little ones. But bananas, you might have noticed, don’t have any. So what’s the deal?

Fruits contain seeds because that’s how their trees reproduce. An apple falls off the tree, the seeds get buried, and a new tree grows. But banana trees (actually giant herbaceous flowering plants) work differently. Every season, the plant dies after its fruit is harvested, and the small bulbs (called the suckers) growing out of the plant’s underground rhizome (called the corn) are then replanted, and new plants grow. Put simply, bananas don’t have seeds because they don’t need them.

Because all bananas have been propagated vegetatively (as this process is called), all bananas are sterile clones, and just about all of the bananas you find in the grocery store are a single breed, Cavendish. The quality is consistent because they’re all genetically identical, but that also makes them very prone to disease and parasites as resistance cannot be bred into them. So the banana breed that was predominant 50 years ago, called the Gros Michel, is all but extinct now because of a fungus. And though the Cavendish is naturally resistant to this fungus, word is that they don’t taste nearly as good as the Gros Michel.

Have you ever wondered why bananas don't have seeds? So have we, and we looked into it. Read on to learn the truth.

Do Bananas Have Seeds?

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

If you’re the type to wonder about such things, you may have noticed that the bananas you buy at the store seem to contain no seeds. If that’s the case, how does the banana tree reproduce? Well, it turns out the bananas do have seeds (of a sort) but they aren’t used for reproduction.

Banana Seeds

If you went out into the wild and opened a banana fruit, you would probably find seeds. Some, in fact, are large and take up much of the fruit, making the flesh hard to eat. Our commercial bananas (which are, for the most part, the Cavendish variety) have been specially bred over the years so that they are seedless triploids that do not form mature seeds. If you’ve noticed little black dots in the middle of the banana, you’ve discovered immature seeds that won’t develop, which happens with triploids.

Tasty Mutant

The banana is actually a type of plantain. Those of the sweet variety that we usually peel and eat raw are often called “dessert” bananas, owing to their sweetness and general snackability. What we call “plantains” simply have that popular name to distinguish them as the large varieties that are typically cooked before eating. Yummy, yellow dessert bananas are bred from mutant strains of banana plants that happened to produce fruit without useful seeds. Banana plants are cultivated by removing rhizomes from host plants and replanting the samples to grow on their own. With this method, one plant can become the “mother” of an entire plantation made up of genetically identical plants.

Talking About Bananas

The next time you need to impress someone, peel off these terms to show your banana brain.

Have you ever stopped to think and wonder whether bananas have seeds? Learn all about banana seeds and many other facts of this a-peel-ing fruit.