Vazhaipoo pollen

  • varuni P

A friend of mine brought me a Vazhaipoo (banana flower) from his farm:

Here are a close up of the tiny florets:

This is a delicacy in south Indian homes. Basically, you take each floret, remove the style/stigma (they are very fibrous) and the sepal like transparent thing. Then you can cook the florets. I’m convinced its mainly a delicacy because this cleaning process takes HOURS and no one wants to do that very often.

Here’s a stamen. I figured the pollen is somewhere on here so I just took this and dabbed it onto cello tape many times and then made a slide out of it.



Initially, the slide looked like it had nothing on it. But after a lot of searching I found what I think is banana pollen:

If you look closely, you see these round glassy things. I think these are banana pollen. It seems like it can be anywhere from 70 – 140 microns! Also, there wasn’t that much pollen.

Well, that was only the first set of florets — so maybe there will be more pollen in younger florets? (Also, I have to clean the rest of the vazhapoo before I can cook it!)

Every time I think I’m almost there I find a another set of slorets!

Anyway, here’s a what I saw on stamens from younger flowers (inner florets):

They look very different from the pollen from mature flowers — perhaps they are not quite pollen yet? Also, they are smaller: 60 – 110 microns.

The Scientific name for Banana is Musa. It’s part of a monocot group with a really fun name: Zingiberanae! This group also includes things like Ginger. One of the characteristics of this group is that these plants have pollen grains without ‘distinctive’ apertures and a reduced outer coat (exine layer). (Also, ‘silica bodies’ in their cells — I’ll find find out more about this soon and post!)

Here they are the stamens and pollen side by side:


(Pollen images are 200×200 microns as described in a previous post.)

A couple of hours later, I had a yummy lunch of samme, parupu podi and Zingiberanae flowers:



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