Species Guide: Common Fruit Trees


A clump of banana plants growing near a drain. Photo by Lee Li Chong

Common name: Banana

Malay name: Pisang

Scientific name: Musa sapientum L.

Conservation status: Cultivated, Native to Malaysia


Somewhat palm-like, this plant grows up to around 3 m tall without a woody trunk. The leaves sheaths are spirally arranged and contracts into sturdy midribs, which divide the leaf blades into two halves. When it is flowering, the plant forms a complex structure that includes the flowers that will develop into fruits.

A cluster of bananas that are partially hidden by leaves of the plant. Photo by Goh Shang Ming
A flowering head of banana plant. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial herbaceous plant

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds, underground stems or suckers (secondary shoots that give rise to new plants)

A new sucker growing next to the mother plant. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Ecological function: As it flowers and fruits all year round, the flowers provide constant source of food for pollinators while the fruits and seeds feed the wildlife. The leaves of this plant provide shelter or materials for nests or roosting wildlife. Its root system converts minerals in soil into forms usable by other plants.

Pollinator: Birds and bats for wild bananas

Soil: Sand, loam, clay, organic soils

Moisture: Moist, well-drained, fertile soils

Shade: No shade, partial shade

Use: The ripe fruits and blossoms are edible. The leaves are used for packing, wrapping and decorative purposes.

By ShangMing

A plant lover. I like small, medium, gigantic, ordinary, exotic, local, foreign plants. Just because they thrive to stand out.