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  • [INTRO ♪]

  • Despite what you may have heard, bananas don't grow on trees!

  • And I know, I knowbanana plants look like trees, with tall thick trunks and leaves on top, but they're actually really big herbs.

  • And the tallest of them all, a wild banana species called Musa ingens, can grow as tall as 15 meters, making it the largest herb on Earth!

  • The main thing that disqualifies banana plants from treehood is that they don't have any wood.

  • Wood is a particularly tough type of plant tissue containing a molecule called lignin.

  • It can be found in a variety of vascular plantsthat is, plants with a circulatory system for transporting nutrients.

  • Plants with wood are called, quite simply, woody plants. And the group includes true trees and shrubs.

  • Non-woody vascular plants are called herbaceous plants, or herbs.

  • Without wood for support, they usually don't grow as tall as trees, but banana plants are an exception.

  • Theirtrunkisn't a trunk, but rather a structure called a pseudostem made of many layers of compacted leaf tissue.

  • Beneath all those layers you'll find the true stem.

  • When the plant reaches its full height, this stem sticks out the top to form the inflorescence, which is where the fruits grow.

  • A sturdy pseudostem allows banana plants to grow to tree-like proportions despite the lack of wood.

  • Even the variety we eat can actually grow as tall as nine meters, which is pretty impressive.

  • But in the jungles of New Guinea, Musa ingens really takes the cake.

  • Its pseudostem can be two meters wide at the base, and its full height of 15 meters makes it as tall as three giraffes stacked on top of one another!

  • And that pseudostem isn't just tall, it's also strong enough to hold up bunches of fruit estimated to weigh as much as 60 kilograms!

  • After fruiting is done with, these banana plants do another thing that isn't very tree-like: they fall apart.

  • See, wood not only protects plants, it also allows them to stand tall year after year.

  • Herbs die back once they're done with their reproductive cycle, so in banana plants, that whole big structure dies.

  • But the plant isn't gone for good.

  • Small shoots called suckers remain and get ready to grow into the next pseudostem.

  • In fact, farmers separate these and replant them to make more banana plants.

  • So while bananas aren't trees and they can't stand tall for years on end, the banana plant still lives a very impressive lifeas tall as three giraffes!

  • Now, if you love a good banana like I do, you might be interested to know that the bananas that we eat are weird mutant bananas,

  • and they might not be long for this world, which is kind of terrifying.

  • So while I enjoy this banana, you should go check out the video that we made all about that.

  • [OUTRO ♪]


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