Peak banana

Somehow, a while back, I found out that banana plants were actually giant herbs. I told this to some people and they ridiculed me.

‘Giant herbs?’ they said. ‘You’re making stuff up.’

‘It’s true!’ I cried. ‘I’ll show you. Let’s look it up on Wikipedia.’

Wikipedia is, of course, the fount of all knowledge. Imagine my distress, then, when there was no mention of ‘herb’ in Wikipedia’s banana article.*

‘But it’s true…’ I said plaintively.

‘Yeah, yeah,’ they said.

I started doubting my previous conviction.

Unexpectedly, while visiting the Palm House at Kew Gardens, I received long overdue vindication.


‘I told them so! I told them!’ I shouted.

Yap passed on some more interesting banana facts.

He said, ‘There is a disease killing all the bananas, you know. It’s gradually reducing the worldwide banana production.’

‘Really?’ I said. ‘I didn’t know that! It must be because all the bananas are clones of each other.’

Yap nodded. ‘In fact, due to this disease, some experts have announced that we have reached peak production.’ He paused. ‘It’s peak banana**.’

* The Wikipedia article on bananas now does have a reference to it growing from ‘herbaceous plants’ in the first line. I swear this wasn’t there when looked.

** I thought Yap was joking and I laughed hysterically. But I just now looked it up on Google and found that there are indeed people writing about peak banana.

2 comments

  1. Yap! It's 3088.. says:

    i thought u were not going to write about this after a while. haha…now that you bring this up again, it’s quite funny.

  2. beldar says:

    You might want to distinguish two different uses of the word herb, as I understand it:

    1. It may be used to refer to a plant that is ‘valued for its medicinal properties, flavor, scent, or the like’. For example, basil, oregano, and other tasty treats.

    2. It may also be used to refer to a plant whose stem and leaves do not become woody but die down at the end of the growing season.

    In describing bananas as a ‘herbaceous’ plant, I believe they are referring only to the latter definition. However, most people probably think of just the former. So, while you are correct in describing bananas as herbs, be careful not to conflate the two definitions in your reader’s minds. I was certainly unaware of the distinction until a short while ago.

    There are examples of herbs that have a woody stem. For example, bay leaves come from a Bay Tree.

    While most people think of bananas as tasty treats (I definitely do!), I don’t know whether they would also want to classify them as herbs in the same way that basil, etc., are thought of (colloquially?) as herbs. Otherwise, ‘herb’ just turns into a vegetarian’s synonym for ‘food’.

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