The banana plant (Musa spp.) is an herbaceous plant which produces banana fruit. Almost all modern edible bananas come from two wild species: M. acuminata (from Southeast Asia) and M. balbisiana (from South Asia); the previous scientific names, M. sapientium and M. paradisiaca, are no longer used. The term “banana” is also used to describe enset, a type of banana native to tropical Africa and Asia, and Fe’i bananas, neither of which belong to the genus Musa. In popular culture and commerce, “banana” typically refers to the soft, sweet, yellow fruits known as “dessert bananas,” which are an example of naturally selective evolution with some tampering by humans; prior to the discovery of dessert bananas, all other bananas were firmer, starchier, and known as plantains, which need to be cooked before they can be eaten. Sometimes, though, “banana” and “plantain” are used interchangeably. Though bananas are native to tropical southern Asia–and are believed to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea–they are now cultivated throughout the tropics in over 107 countries. Bananas are usually grown for their fruit, though they are also used to make banana fibers, banana wines, and are used as ornamental plants.
Dr. Gerry Harding identifies a banana species on Isla Nublar as Musa callimusa, which is a fictional species. However, in real life there is a section of the genus Musa called Callimusa.
Bananas technically are not trees, but rather herbaceous flowering plants. They are the tallest herbs in the world, sometimes reaching 23 feet tall in the largest cultivars. Its pinnate leaves can reach up to nine feet long and two feet wide, and are easily torn by wind. It produces an inflorescence when it reaches adulthood, which is sometimes called the banana heart. Fruits develop from the heart in large hanging clusters made up of three to twenty tiers (called “hands”). The individual fruits are yellow with a leathery peel and a whitish stringy interior. Cultivated bananas have nearly nonexistent seeds due to selective breeding. Bananas naturally contain the radioisotope potassium-40 along with normal potassium, making them slightly more radioactive than other fruits.
The banana plant is native to the tropics, including Australia and Indonesia. They were probably first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. They grow well in soil that is at least 60 centimeters deep, not compacted, and well drained of water; as long as these conditions are met, they will grow in most soil types.
Bananas are known to grow on Isla Nublar, according to Jurassic Park: The Game. In particular, the species Musa callimusa grows there; it was a food source for Triceratops, so it was probably found in their paddocks. It is physically seen in the primary Triceratops paddock.
It is unknown if any banana plants remained on Isla Nublar in 2015, as none are encountered. However, it is likely that most, if not all, of any remaining bananas were destroyed in the June 23, 2018 eruption of Mount Sibo.
According to the junior novel Survivor, bananas of unidentified species were grown on plantations on Isla Sorna before InGen purchased the island. As of 2001, some groves still existed despite having been left to grow wild for decades. Eric Kirby encounters one in the western region of the island, and later discovers a map with the locations of various banana groves across Isla Sorna. None of the locations are specifically described, however.
Gerry Harding stated that the Triceratops on Isla Nublar like to eat banana leaves. Because they favored the leaves instead of fruits, it is unlikely that Triceratops are important distributors of seeds. Instead, they are simply predators of the banana plant.
The junior novel Survivor describes bananas as a food source for herbivorous mammals, such as two-toed sloths, monkeys, and opossums, as well as depicting Diplodocus feeding on the leaves.