Have you ever wondered what all of the differences are between a plantain tree vs banana tree? These two trees are closely linked in many ways, including their physical appearances. But what makes both the plantain and the banana tree special, and in what ways are they distinct from one another?
In this article, we will compare and contrast everything you need to know about both plantain and banana trees so that you can gain a full understanding of both of these plants. We will go over their physical appearances and classifications so that you know how they relate. Finally, we will go over their care, where they grow best, and more in case you want to plant one of these trees at home. Let’s get started now!
Comparing Plantain Tree vs Banana Tree
|Plantain Tree||Banana Tree|
|Classification||Musa balbisiana||Musa acuminata|
|Description||Grows up to 18 feet tall and nearly 10 feet wide, given its upright nature and large leaves. Shaped like paddles and growing in clusters, the leaves are upright and impressive. Red or maroon flowers become bunches of plantains||Grows anywhere from 10-20 feet tall and has huge paddle-shaped leaves that reach 6-10 feet in size. Produces white or cream flowers that become bananas, branches falling off after fruit has been produced. Looks similar to a palm variety when fully grown, given the fact that it grows pseudostems that look like tree trunks|
|Fruit Description||Straight and large fruit with an outer covering that needs cutting rather than peeling. Best cooked due to high starch content and many seeds||More curved than plantain, with an easy to peel outer shell. Sweet and best eaten raw|
|Hardiness Zones and Care||9-12. Full sun and moist soil. Needs to be protected in cold temperatures||10-11. Needs a tropical climate with full sunlight and moist but well-draining soil. The more humidity, the better for this plant|
|Special Features||Plantains are the ancestors of modern bananas!||Bananas are one of the most commonly consumed fruits in the entire world!|
Key Differences Between Plantain Tree vs Banana Tree
There are many key differences between plantain trees and banana trees. While they are from the same family, plantains and bananas are very different from each other, and plantain trees are considered the ancestors of the modern banana. In addition, banana trees produce fruit that is curved and sweeter compared to plantain tree fruit. Finally, plantain trees grow in more hardiness zones compared to the banana tree.
Let’s go over all of these details and more now.
Plantain Tree vs Banana Tree: Classification
It should come as no surprise to hear that plantain trees and banana trees are related. They grow in remarkably similar ways, but they are considered different species from one another. For example, the plantain tree is classified as Musa balbisiana, while the banana tree is classified as Musa acuminata. You can see that they are both members of the Musae family, but they are very different varieties from one another.
Plantain Tree vs Banana Tree: Description
It can be very difficult to tell the difference between a plantain tree and a banana tree upon first glance. However, there are a few things to look at to help you tell them apart, especially if you are looking at them side by side. For example, the banana tree grows slightly taller compared to the average plantain tree, though it depends on the specific varieties that you are comparing.
For the most part, the leaves on the plantain tree grow more clustered and upright compared to the leaves on the banana tree. Both of these plants grow pseudostems that appear to form a complete trunk, but it is in fact various offshoots of the plant itself. The banana tree grows flowers that are white or cream, while plantain trees grow red or maroon flowers. However, they both produce fruit in a similar fashion as well.
Plantain Tree vs Banana Tree: Fruit Description
While it can be difficult to tell a plantain tree from a banana tree when it is growing, you should be able to tell the difference between a banana fruit and a plantain fruit once it is ripe. For example, most plantains grow straighter and larger than the average banana. Depending on the variety, bananas are easier to peel compared to plantains, which often need to be cut in order to be opened.
When it comes to the fruit itself, bananas are sweeter and softer compared to the seedy and tough plantain. In fact, most bananas are consumed raw, while plantains are best consumed when cooked, allowing time for the starch to soften. The standard plantain described here also has seeds within the fruit, something that the banana does not have.
Plantain Tree vs Banana Tree: Hardiness Zones and Care
Both the plantain and banana tree grow best in tropical environments. However, the plantain tree grows in a few more hardiness zones compared to the average banana tree. For example, you can grow plantain trees in zones 9-12, while banana trees grow best in zones 1-11. Both trees enjoy full sunlight and well-drained soil, and you will need to protect both from cold temperatures, depending on the region.
Plantain Tree vs Banana Tree: Special Features
You likely know that banana trees produce one of the most popular fruits in the world, but the same cannot be said for the plantain tree. However, we have the plantain to thank for our modern-day banana, as the plantain tree is one of the ancestors of the banana tree!
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