Plantains are native to India and are grown in Florida, West Africa, Central Africa, the Caribbean and other places with a tropical climate. Plantains have been grown in Florida since the 16th century, though because the area can freeze during the winter, the state is only credited with a small fraction of the global plantain crop. Over 100 different varieties of plantains are grown in Africa.
In order to grow, plantains need consistently warm temperatures and protection from strong winds. The vegetable grows on trees and resembles a longer version of the banana. The skin of a plantain can be green, yellow or black. Plantain plants produce crops year round and for many years, up to 100 or more. Bananas are a subspecies of plantains. They are smaller, sweeter and are eaten raw as a fruit. Plantains are starchy and are typically eaten after being cooked. Black plantains are considered ripe and are sometime eaten raw.
Plantains are a major food staple in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Plantain cultivation accounts for approximately 19 percent of musa plant variations grown worldwide as of 2013. As of the same year, approximately 15 percent of global plantain production is traded internationally. The remaining 85 percent is consumed domestically.