Madalena do Mar is a small settlement on the south west coast of Madeira and one of the largest banana growing areas on the island.
Most bananas are grown in small family plots but it is possible to walk through one of the larger plantations in Madalena do Mar and see the plants closely.
Park and walk to Rua do IV Centenario which runs parallel to the main road along the coast. Watch out for the sign to the narrow alleyway, Verda da Vargam.
Walk down this, following the small levada which runs along the alley. This takes you through the banana plantation onto a narrow footpath bringing you back out on the main road.
The bananas thrive on the fertile volcanic soils and can produce 3 or 4 crops a year. The bananas are small and no longer meet EU regulations so can only be exported to Portugal.
Although referred to as trees, they are in fact herbaceous plants, growing from a pseudostem and the remains of leaf stalks can be seen on this. The bananas are closely planted and metal poles help support the heavy plants. Old trees are cut down allowing new suckers to form.
The bananas develop from purple flowers which hang beneath the bunches of bananas. Ripening is controlled by placing blue polythene covers round the fruit.
This walk takes 5-10 minutes and is well worth doing.
You can fins all my pictures of Madeira “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/madeira/index.html