Musa spp. (Musaceae family) 

Origin: SE Asia
Fruiting season: year round
Height: tall herbaceous (10 – 20 ft)
Relatives: banana

The plantain is a banana cultivar but starchier and lower in sugar. Plantains are typically larger than bananas and range in color from green to yellow to dark brown depending on the level of ripeness. They are usually harvested and cooked while still green. The fruit becomes less starchy as it ripens and is used for sweeter dishes when the skin is almost black.

The plantain, as a banana cultivar, is the largest flowering herbaceous plant in the world. Its stem is made of tightly overlapping leaves. Each plant normally produces a single flower cluster known as a “heart”. The fruits develop from the plantain heart in a large hanging cluster. After fruiting, the plant dies with new offshoots emerging from its base.

There are over 1000 different varieties of bananas and plantains that vary in color, size, texture and taste. Plantains can be boiled, steamed, fried, roasted, or dehydrated into a delicious and nutritious snack. 

Dwarf Puerto Rican plantains – This group belongs to the true plantains which must be cooked for palatability. Bunches bear one to a few hands of rather large and pointy fruits which are noticeably long, slender and curved with darkish yellow pulp. The Puerto-Rican plantains are considered the best tasting of all tropical American plantains. The dwarf cultivar is 6-9 feet tall. The bunch has fewer fruits of excellent quality, especially when boiled. The pulp is very tasty when boiled or fried at any stage, especially when ripe.

Plantain cut into slices
Plantain on stand