The stalk is the stem of the banana plant. The banana stalk produces one huge flower cluster and then dies. The stalk is usually cut off the plant when the bananas are plump and ready to ripen. Before it dies, there are a number of things the banana stalk can be used for.
In many countries, banana stalks are used to make a variety of household items. You can use banana stalks to create picture frames, wallets, camera holders, table mats, lampshades and ladies' handbags, among countless other items. Hats are another often-crafted item. Gum is used to hold the pieces together and varnish is applied to the outside of the hat to make it water-resistant. Soft parts of the banana plant are used on the inside for padding to make it comfortable to wear. It's not uncommon in many third world villages to have a banana stalk artisan.
The soft part of the banana stalk is often used as a base for flower arrangements. For some occasions, leaves are stuck into the stalk to make arrangements. For some weddings, the stalk as well as the plant is used as a decoration during the wedding ceremony. The arrangement symbolizes good wishes to the couple with the hope that their marriage is as fruitful as the banana plant.
At the center of the upper trunk of the banana stalk is a water-filled, crisp, major artery. The artery can be cut into bite-sized pieces and tossed in a salad. Orange slices, banana stalk and romaine lettuce make a tasty match-up. It can also be tossed into dishes as you would add root vegetables. Again, slice the artery into small pieces and throw it into soups, stews and meat dishes. Similar to celery, the artery has little taste but a high water content. It is ideal in food for the texture it adds.
Banana stalks can be used as compost material. The material takes longer to break down than most other compost items but, besides the length of time, there are no other problems or concerns with using banana stalks in your compost. To make it more effective, cut the stalk into pieces as small as you can and compost them as you would wood pieces. Adding nitrogen to the mix may speed up the decomposition of the stalk.
Many people use hardy banana stalks to craft toys. Almost any toy can be made from stalks and some of the most popular are stick horses, pistols, rifles, swords and boats. To make a banana stalk horse, strip off the leaves so you are left with the midrib of the banana plant and leave a small leaf attached for the horse's tail.
- "The Giant Encyclopedia of Art & Craft Activities for Children 3 to 6;" Carrie Barnes and Kathy Charn; 2002
- "African Crafts for You to Make;" Janet D'Amato: 1969
- "African Crafts: Fun Things to Make and Do from West Africa;" Lynne Garner; 2008
- "Banana;" Dan Koeppel; 2008