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That's right, your much beloved banana—the topper to your breakfast bowl, the filler to your morning smoothie, the sweetness in your baked goods, is technically an herb. Forget everything you ever thought you knew. Today, we start over.

March 16, 2017

Every week at the grocery store I buy two bunches of bananas; one ripe bunch to consume pretty much immediately and one green bunch to enjoy later in the week. My people eat bananas pretty much all day long (thank you, Minions); they're the one thing I can be sure everyone will eat and, thanks to their perfect portion and packaging, they travel well so we can enjoy sweet fruit wherever we go. If we find we have too many? Banana Bread.

Today, however, I peeled a banana, took a bite, and tasted a hint of confused betrayal, because today I learned that while my bananas are classified as a fruit, they are also the world's largest herb. What?

That's right, an herb, which is exactly the section where I'll be relocating the bananas in my local grocery store. Cilantro. Parsley. Banana. Basil. Dill. 

So many questions. How does a yellow fruit find itself snuggled into the all-green herb category? And don't bananas grow on trees? Turns out, no—no they do not. While we call the plant on which bananas grow a "banana tree," they're actually herbacious (there's the key word) plants because of the make up of the stem's tissue. The stem of the banana plant isn't a tree; rather, it's tightly wrapped leaf sheaths.

Watch: Can I Freeze Bananas? 

 

Does this mean you should start garnishing your plates with shredded bananas? Sprinkling the stringy parts over pizza? Zesting the peel? No. Please don't. But can you now claim that you started your day with a nice herb salad after having only a banana for breakfast? Sure. Why not? 

At the very least, keep this awesome, quirky tidbit stored away for lulls in conversations or other moments that you need inane trivia: Bananas= herbs.

Got leftover herbs that are growing too ripe? Make a few of our favorite recipes:

Other odd banana facts you should know:

  • Monkeys peel their bananas from the bottom (opposite of the stem) and you should too if you want to avoid those stringy pieces.
  • The stem of the banana is actually the bottom, because bananas grow from the stem up, not hanging from the stem as many believe. 
  • Bananas are also considered berries, in that berries are defined as skin surrounding fleshy pulp containing seeds.

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