New York Daily Photo Analytics

Monday, August 25, 2008

Banana Too

I've always had a love affair with the tropics and its icons. I share it with many denizens of temperate climates who at times look for transport to a more benign climate - armchair travelers looking for a quick sojourn to the tropics, former citizens reminiscing or those who fantasize a vacation or perhaps a residence in an idyllic world of perpetual summer. On a cold night during a long winter, the sight and sounds of palm fronds rustling in a balmy wind warms my spirit.
I feel like I have a radar operating subconsciously, scanning for all things tropical, whether real, such as plants or fruits, images in books or perhaps a magazine cover reporting on the latest roundup of best rated island destinations.
So I was quite shocked to see this enormous banana plant thriving in Tompkins Square Park as I entered the western entrance to attend the Charlie Parker concert. I was certainly not completely alone in my interest in photographing this anomaly - whether others recognized it as such, I do not know. I asked one woman with a point and shoot camera whether she knew anything about banana trees, hoping to get some information regarding the ability of a tropical species to survive a temperate climate. She knew nothing of such matters and did appear to share my penchant for the tropics.
So, I have spent the morning reading about banana plants. However, I can not report with any assuredness specifically what species of plant this is nor any history as to its planting.
I did learn however, that there are non-fruiting ornamental varieties which can withstand winters - Musa Basjoo, Saja, and Ice Cream. The Basjoo can even withstand sub-zero temperatures. Any plant aficionados who want to jump in on this?

Note: The banana plant is actually not a tree but a herbaceous perennial. It is a giant herb of the genus Musa.


Anonymous said...

That looks more like a "mata de platanos" than a banana tree. Platanos (green plantains) and bananas are from the same family but they are kind of distant cousins. If it's a "mata de platano" enjoy it while it last, because it won't survive the winter.

have fun!,

TOG said...

You might like to see my bananas. I have grown the Ae Ae banana for over 40 years and have a site that has a few pictures of these bananas.

Therese said...

In North California our neighbors had a banana tree with a three years cycle regarding the fruits themselves. Fascinating.

exfactor said...

If you enjoy the tropics - and other exotic places - feel free to swing by my daily photo blog which covers both NYC and a number of interesting international destinations. In fact, the last couple of day's pics are from a recent tall ship sail through the Caribbean. Many more to follow as it was a great excursion for photo opportunities. And headed to the coast of Colombia, as well as Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba in early January 09 - so more to come. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I wondered the same thing, too, when my friend first pointed out the anomalously tropical corner of the park. We also noticed that the trees came and went with spring and fall. I just found this, about the head gardener of the park:

"His favorite part of the park, the middle entrance on Seventh St. between Avenues A and B, sports a lot of tropical plants from the first thaw until before the first October frost sets in. Included in this area are agaves and other dessert plants, a giant red banana tree, which is around four years old, a tropical ginger plant and a palm tree. They are housed in the Parks Department’s greenhouse in Staten Island during the winter. "

Rest of the article is at