Exotic banana tree grows in Steelton, Dauphin County

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DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — When you think of Steelton, in Dauphin County, you think of steel and steelmaking. You think of the Steel-High Rollers.

You do not, however, think of a 15-foot-high banana plant. David Venturo and his fiancee, Khid Dipietro, have cultivated it for about five years.

“It started out as a single tree,” Venturo said. “Little plant, actually, wasn’t even a tree. And now it’s grown to that.”

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The 15-foot “tree” actually represents just one year’s growth.

“Around the end of the season,” Venturo said. “Mid to end November, I cut them down to about a foot. I put leaves and plastic over them-used to be five-gallon buckets, now it’s trash cans, then I wrap them with a tarp, put a rock on top of them until March.”

Just this week, the big plant produced a little surprise. They discovered it when Dipietro’s daughter dropped by.

“She asked us would that ever produce a flower or fruit, and I said probably not in this area,” Venturo said. “We came out into the yard, and lo and behold, like, she saw it, ‘Oh my God there’s a flower!’ And then we looked behind it, and sure enough, there were bananas.”

Apparently, this was a very good year to be a banana plant. There are over a dozen bananas around the flower, still green and growing. Venturo credits the summer weather.

“It sure has been muggy and a lot of moisture. They like that,” he said. “So I think this was the perfect summer.”

With over a thousand varieties of bananas around the world, Venturo and Dipietro aren’t sure what kind they are growing. They have a good reason, though, to believe that it comes from Thailand. Dipietro hails from there, they have a lot of friends there, and one of her friends gave her the plant. The big question now is, will the bananas have a chance to ripen before cold weather hits?

“We’re going to give it a chance,” Venturo said. “We cut some of the leaves around it so it can get some sun. And hopefully, we’ll have a warm fall here the next five or six weeks. That would be nice.”

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