30 September 2012

On what I've learned about banana trees...

... and it seems like a lot, especially since we've got several in our garden and I've never watched them grow before!

First of all, they aren't "trees," at least in the normal sense of of what I consider trees,  because they don't have a trunk. What you see are huge leaves that push up and out of a mat underground.

Secondly, they do not reproduce using seeds or a typical germination process. In the grand scheme of things, that is relatively rare. New shoots pop up out of that mat, all around the original. Those new plants are called suckers.

Another interesting tidbit? It is considered a part of the same family, botanically speaking,  as the tomato, papaya, avocado and guava. Even harder to wrap my mind around? The fruit, technically speaking once again, is called a berry.


Each banana plant/leaf bears fruit only once. As the berries grow and ripen, the stalk leans under the heavy weight. After the "berries" have ripened (or are almost there), you remove the bunch and then cut back the leaves, almost right to the ground. Those leaves make excellent compost/fertilizer for the rest of the garden. 

This fact makes me think of Jesus. Jesus bore the weight of my sin to produce the fruit of righteousness in my life, once and for all, and then He died. I just find it amazing that I can seen nature pointing to the Gospel message in so many ways, like this, all around me.

We've tried to plant banana trees before. Several years ago, in fact, we planted three. They weren't getting enough sun, and the leaves always looked pale and of course there was no fruit. Then, we moved them out into the middle of our yard where they received plenty of sun. For a long time, they looked relatively healthy, but they remained small and still produced no fruit. This time, we have the trees planted in our garden that receives full sun, almost the entire day. It is watered almost continually by the run off from two bathrooms sinks and showers as well as our washing machine. And here, they are thriving magnificently, in this naturally warm (I'd argue downright hot) environment, persistently  watered and inundated with light from the sun. In our experience, even when the plant looked okay, either no fruit developed at all or those ones that did were tiny and all skin with very little of the sweet flesh that make bananas such a treat. 

I see another lesson in that detail. As a child of the Almighty God, I will not be healthy - growing and producing fruit - unless I'm regularly being fed by the water of the word and the continual, abiding presence of the Son. Even if everything looks good to others, any fruit produced will be essentially useless. 

The larger the banana bunch that the banana tree produces, the sooner the tree begins to lean. If is not braced up, the tree will collapse and the fruit growing out of it will die instead of maturing.

This reminds me of the importance of fervent prayer to support those who are leaders in our churches. Those leaders are giving out much and sometimes need the extra bracing and fortification of incessant, intercessory prayer on their behalf.

According to scientists and nutritionists, men should value the banana as one of the earth's most important fruits. A quick on line google for information reveals the many healing properties of bananas. Some of those include improving anemic blood, helping with the control of high blood pressure, enhancing leaning ability, combating digestive issues, alleviating symptoms of clinical depression, preventing heartburn, reducing morning sickness, discouraging mosquito bites - and making them itch less if you rub just a bit directly one of those itchy bumps, regulating weight problems, and maintaining healthy body temperature, to name a few. We even have friends who've rubbed their skin with the inside of a banana peel to get rid of warts. 

For such a simple, unassuming... perhaps even undervalued... plant, I think it is an impressive reminder of God's creativity, love and provision - and I think it is so neat how little things about it point to Him as Savior and Redeemer.

What about you?

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