Banana plants are herbaceous perennials. They are mostly foliage, with stems made of rolled leaf layers. The plant leaves, which are up to 9 feet long and 2 feet wide, unfurl from these stalks. Banana plants are a common fruit crop. In some areas, gardeners grow them for ornamental reasons. But banana leaves also offer nutritional and medicinal benefits in addition to having other value.
The wrapped banana leaves that form the plant's stem contain starch, which is extracted through a fermentation or cooking process. People in some parts of the world use the resulting flour for baking. The starch is also cooked into glue.
As a home remedy, banana-leaf poultices help to heal burns and other skin irritations, according to Purdue University, which adds that individuals suffering from, ulcers, diarrhea or dysentery may ingest the leaf ashes as a treatment for their condition. Check with your doctor before trying this approach.
According to an article on the website ReadersDigestVersion, banana leaves tenderize meat during the cooking process. The practice, common in Asian countries, is to wrap the food in the banana leaf and tie it with string before grilling, baking or steaming the dish. In some countries, people use banana leaves for lining cooking pits and for wrapping food, according to Purdue University. The banana foliage also becomes makeshift plates and placemats.
People in South America and other areas of the world use banana leaves to block the rain and to provide protection from the hot sun, according to Purdue University
For the Garden and Beyond
Chopped up banana leaves, including the plant's stem, serve as mulching material. Whole leaves protect other crops from the hot sun. People fold banana leaves into planters, use it as heavy-duty paper or use the fiber to make rope, string and baskets. Ecuadorians uses the leaves for seat cushions; West Africans makes fishing lines with the fiber. In the Philippines, people weave banana leaves into clothing; in Ceylon, they use the leaves to make the soles of shoes.