Differences between Plantain and Banana Trees

Plantain vs Banana: The Similarities and Differences

The banana and plantain trees are quite difficult to differentiate as they’re very similar even in their vegetative state. The easiest way to distinguish both trees is through their fruits.

Bananas are soft, sweet, and excellent for baking. In contrast, plantains are firmer and have a starchy taste, which makes them ideal for use in exotic recipes. Though plantain and banana leaves are similar in color, they are a little different in shape and share a few other telltale features that set the two apart.

Going by appearance alone, one may wonder what precisely is the difference between plantain suckers and banana suckers. While both may look alike, plantain’s taste isn’t to be confused with that of banana.

Bananas are a staple food in many households. They are mild, sweet fruits that are popularly eaten, while plantains aren’t so well-known. This article gives an overview of the differences between plantain trees and banana trees.

What is the difference between plantain and banana?


  • Banana is the name given to the edible fruits produced by a variety of the large, herbaceous plants of the genus Musa, (that is, a stem without woody tissue). From a botanical point of view, the banana is a berry species.
  • Banana suckers are widely used in European and North American cuisines. However, they originally came from Southeast Asia.
  • Bananas have a slender shape, are long, and are protected by thick skin.
  • There are many different types of banana trees producing various kinds of fruits. In Western cultures, however, the word “banana” describes the sweet, yellow variety typically.
  • The exterior skin is green, resilient, and difficult to peel when immature.
  • With increasing maturity, the skin turns light yellow, then a dark brown color. It’s also easy to peel off.
  • The fruit can be consumed cooked or raw, and as it matures, the edible pulp of the fruit becomes sweeter, darker, and softer.


  • The word plantain denotes a banana variety with a completely different taste profile and application than the sweet, yellow banana that most people are familiar with.
  • Like bananas, plantains are also from Southeast Asia. However, they are cultivated everywhere in the world, like Egypt, Indonesia, India, and tropical regions of America.
  • Plantains are typically bigger and harder than bananas and have much thicker skin. They can be green, yellow, or very dark brown.
  • Due to their high starch content, plantains are seldom eaten raw and have to be cooked (boiled, roasted, fried, or baked) before consumption.
A Banana Tree
Banana Tree
Plantain Tree
A Plantain Tree

Telling the Differences between Plantain Tree and Banana Tree

These are some of the features that set plantain trees apart from banana trees.

  • Watch the leaves of the plants. While the leaf colors vary in plantain and banana plants, sometimes you can tell the difference by the shape of the leaves. Plantain leaves are similar in shape to the soles of shoes, but banana leaves tend to be more tubular and longer.
  • Examine the plant’s fruit form. At maturity, bananas are yellow and about 6-inch long, while plantains are green or black and approximately 12-inch long.
  • With your hand, feel the texture of the plant’s fruit. Bananas are softer with a medium-thick skin, while plantains are very firm and have tough, thick skin.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to confuse plantain suckers with bananas suckers due to their strikingly similar visual resemblance. However, after tasting the fruits, they’re easy to distinguish. To tell the differences between plantain trees and banana trees, check the shape of the leaves and the respective fruit form in each plant.

Apart from that, their nutritional content and possible health values are alike, but their suckers are not. Bananas have more sugar and less starch than plantains. They’re more suitable for tasty dishes, while bananas can be easily used in desserts or alone. The fruits are nutritious, wholesome foods, and can be consumed as part of a healthy diet.

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