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The Banana Tree at Vassar

by Carrie Perkins

I chose Vassar College in part for its stunning library. With stained-glass windows, long wooden tables lit by little lamps, and secret passageways, it reminded me a little bit of Hogwarts. Whether camping out with coffee and snacks to study for exams or just curling up with a book on a rainy day, it became my favorite place to study.

So it was to my great surprise that I found an even better study spot toward the end of my time at Vassar: the college’s greenhouse. Complete with patio table and chairs, the whisper of misting machines, and the chattering of insects, it gave the library a run for its money. Covering every bench were hundreds of unique and sometimes rare plants, from succulents with their thick, fleshy leaves to orchids that filled the air with amazing smells.

The Vasser College greenhouse

But my one true love was the banana tree, which sat right beside the patio table. It towered over everything else in the greenhouse, spanning from floor to ceiling and sprawling left and right. It provided the best bananas I have ever tasted. They were creamy, melted in your mouth, and were bursting with flavor. Oh, how I miss you, my dear banana tree.

Carrie Perkins is Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland-College Park, where she studies patterns of persistence of the aquatic plant Vallisneria americana, a foundation species native to the northeastern U.S. that is threatened by increasingly harsh and unpredictable weather events and chronic poor water quality. Carrie earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and German at Vassar College in 2014. Before entering the Plant Sciences program at UMD, she was a linguistics project manager at Morningside Translations and then worked as a lab technician in Loyola University Maryland’s biology department. In her spare time, she enjoys running with the Federal Hill Runners Club near her home in Baltimore.

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