St. John Flora: Bananas

banana flower-9
bananasOnce upon a time, bananas were wild plants that grew only in Asia. Then, like now, bananas were a tasty fruit. The problem with them was that they were difficult to eat, because the wild bananas were full of extremely hard seeds about the size of small peas. The seeds could make up about eighty percent of the banana fruit, leaving only twenty percent as edible flesh. To eat a banana in those days one needed to be either very hungry or have a lot of patience.

Every once in a while, however, a wild banana plant would undergo a genetic mutation causing it to produce a seedless fruit. (The tiny dark particles that you see in the commonly seen bananas of today are actually undeveloped seeds that are so small and so soft that you may not even notice them.)

Without fertile seeds the mutated bananas could not reproduce and spread in the normal fashion. The only way the seedless banana can reproduce is parthenocarpically, which means without seeds. It does this by means of suckers, which grow off the main stem forming new plants that have exactly the same genetic makeup and attributes as the parent.

In all probability, these mutated seedless bananas were eventually found and sampled by human beings foraging for food. Needless to say, the seedless variety was much more desirable than the difficult-to-eat seeded ones and once they were discovered, people decided to bring back some slips for home cultivation. This is a relatively easy process. All that needs to be done is to severe the suckers from the main stem with a sharp object. The small, light and easily carried slips can then be transported and replanted in more convenient locations.

The seedless banana undoubtedly became a popular and sought after crop and gradually was spread… read more

St. John Virgin islands Weather

Scattered showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 77. East wind around 22 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

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