Difference Between a Banana and Plantain and Their Trees

Typical plantain
Typical plantain
Many people wonder the difference between bananas and plantains, the fruits. Others are curious about the difference in the trees. The truth is, it is much easier to explain the fruits, than the trees, in words.

Difference between the fruits

Precisely, in many cultures the main difference between a banana and a plantain is that you have to cook a banana plantain before you can eat it, while you can eat a fresh ripe banana anytime without having to cook it. In some West African grocery markets, plantains are typically bigger than bananas. Ripe bananas usually taste sweeter than ripe plantains.

Typical banana
Typical banana
Having thicker skin, plantains are more starchy than bananas, and may be used in cooking at any ripeness stage. This is in contrast to bananas, which are mostly usable when they are completely ripe.

Difference between the trees

It can be really challenging to describe just in words the difference between banana trees and plantain trees, but it is possible. There is no visible distinction between the two, unless each tree has fruits in ripening stage.

Typical banana tree
Typical banana tree
So, you can only know it is a banana tree when it has a bunch of bananas on it. The same goes for plantain trees.
Typical plantain tree
Typical plantain tree


Photo credit: Shiv, robin_24, John Asselin, and Rich Young.

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