Banana leaves are large, wide, elongated, and slightly rounded, averaging two meters in length, a half meter in width, and eight to twelve leaves per tree. The surfaces of the leaves are waxy, flexible, and glossy, and range in color from lime green to olive green to dark green. There is a central midrib that runs the length of the leaf, and two laminas, or leaf halves, are found on either side of the midrib. The leaves do not have branching veins, and this makes them vulnerable to tearing easily. Banana plants also have a pseudostem, which is a false stem that looks like a trunk but is actually multiple fleshy leaf sheaths that are tightly overlapped. Banana leaves have a grassy, sweet, green flavor.
Banana leaves contain polyphenols, which are natural antioxidants. Some of these polyphenols are also found in green tea.
In addition to their culinary uses, banana leaves have also been used in the Buddhist and Hindu religions as decorations and as bowls, plates, and offerings in special religious celebrations such as marriage ceremonies. They are also used in India and the Philippines to construct fences and thatched roofs, and have even been used as umbrellas.
Banana leaves are available year-round.