Bananas have been cultivated for over 2000 years. In the Koran there
is a plant refered to as "the tree of paradise" which is believed
to be a banana plant. Alexander the Great told of seeing the sages of India
eating a fruit which closely resembled the banana. All indications lead
us to believe bananas originated in Asia. Some of the most primitive species
of banana are still found growing wild in this region. Bananas were propogated
around the world by early explorers. As the Western hemisphere was explored
by the Spanish in the 16th century they brought over banana plants and
introduced them to South and Central America and the Carribean. Today there
are over 500 documented names for different banana varieties, yet they
are not all classified as individual species. Due to the banana plants'
tendancy to "sport" or mutate very easily, taxonomists gave up
long ago trying to classify them all. Only the plants which are capable
of reproducing by seed (diploid) have been classified into species. The
seedless type (triploid) have been left to be refered to by their local
names, called varieties.
The seedless bananas, which are the varieties ciltivated for food,
reproduce by production of "suckers" or ratoons. These are shoots
off of the main root or "corm" of the plant.
(to be continued...)
© 1995 Banansaurus Rix