It may be freezing, but you can still see bananas growing

What do B1, B2, fingers and Curious George all have in common? Bananas of course.

Bananas are one of the earliest known cultivated fruits, dating back some 10,000 years to New Guinea. Not surprisingly the fruit eaten then would be almost unrecognisable compared with the modern-day fruit we see and enjoy eating today.

Musa velutina. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Musa velutina. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Commercially, the Cavendish banana is the most commonly available banana in New Zealand, but there are a variety of bananas grown in tropical areas that we do not get to see in our supermarkets. Bananas come in different sizes and even different skin colours, and there is no need to travel beyond Dunedin to see some of these or to experience the warm tropical environment they thrive in.

Bananas have been grown at the Dunedin Botanic Garden’s Winter Garden glasshouses for over 100 years where they were showcased as one of the earliest exotic plants.

Today, the Winter Garden is home to a variety of bananas from the Musa acuminata cultivar ‘Dwarf Cavendish’ to the colourful Musa velutina with its pink fruit skins and the wild Indian banana Musa mannii. The ideal tropical climate of the Winter Garden results in banana plants growing with such vigour that they tower over the other plants.

Every year bananas are celebrated around the world on the third Wednesday in April, which is National Banana Day. Although the celebration has passed for this year, you can enjoy the different varieties of bananas at the Winter Garden glasshouse

Garden Life is produced by the Dunedin Botanic Garden.

For further information, contact Ben Xie.

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