Bananas with seeds?

Bananas are one of the most widely eaten fruits in the world. In our regions we mainly know the ‘dessert’ banana, but in many areas the banana is an important source of starch. Some varieties also provide fibre.

Researchers are constantly trying to improve existing varieties. The constant improvement of plants however can lead to a loss of characteristics. Wild species still have these. Our cultivated varieties no longer have seeds. Wild bananas still produce seeds, so we can easily preserve them in our seed bank and thus secure genetic diversity for the future. The collection at Meise Botanic Garden contains seeds of about 20 different species. It is being further developed by researchers at Meise Botanic Garden and KU Leuven. The research focuses on the genetic origins of our cultivated bananas.

In the Green Ark, we grow new banana plants from some of the seeds in our collection. When these plants in turn give seeds, they can be spread to other botanical gardens, securing genetic diversity for the future.