10 Fascinating Banana Facts

There’s so much more to the humble banana than its fantastic taste and a bevy of nutritional benefits. This morsel of goodness could well be the oldest fruit in the world and five million of them are consumed by Australians each and every day.

But that’s not all that’s interesting about this age old fruit.So to get you up to speed, here are 10 fascinating facts about bananas…

Australia’s most popular fruit

Bananas are Australia’s most popular fruit. Nine in 10 households regularly buy them every single week.

The world’s oldest fruit?

The humble banana is believed to be the world’s oldest fruit. The first bananas were grown in the Malaya Peninsula, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Philippines, but they’re now produced in more than 150 countries.

Australian made

All bananas consumed in Australia are grown in Australia. That’s because of our strict quarantine regulations. Australian banana producers supply over 380,000 tonnes of bananas for the domestic market each and every year.

An Asian influence

Bananas were initially brought into Australia by Chinese migrants in the mid-1800s. Residents of Carnarvon in WA were among the first to taste them. Plantations then began to spring up in Queensland in the 1880s before also being introduced to New South Wales a decade later.

A banana a day

Forget an apple a day, Australians munch through five million bananas each and every day. If you put that volume of bananas end to end, they would stretch all the way from Sydney to Melbourne.

Finger on the pulse

The name banana comes from the Arabic word for finger. Why? Because the initial bananas from south-east Asia were quite small, resembling an adult finger, and Arabian traders referred to them as such. That’s also why they grow in hands.

It’s a herb and a fruit

Bananas are both a fruit and a herb, and they also classify as a berry. They’re considered herbs because the plant is closely related to ginger, and features a succulent stem that’s mistakenly called a tree. They’re a fruit because the part you eat contains the seeds of the plant.

Technically speaking they’re also a berry because they have three fleshy layers – the exterior that you peel, the fleshy part you eat and the seeds in the middle (they’re often too small or soft to notice).

Oh and by the way, neither strawberries nor raspberries are actually berries!

Beyond the Cavendish

While Cavendish and Lady Finger bananas might be the first names to spring to mind, there are actually over 1000 varieties of banana, including the Mona Lisa, the Gold Finger, the Blue Java and the Ice Cream banana.

In Australia, the Cavendish accounts for 97 per cent of production, followed by the Lady Finger at three per cent and a few other varieties that make up less than one per cent.

A Cavendish, your grace?

Although not the first banana to make its way to Europe, the Cavendish is named after William Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire.

He took a shipment of these tasty morsels in 1834 and then cultivated them further in his greenhouse. They were subsequently shipped all over the Pacific in the 1850s.

Three things banana peels fix

A blend of acids, oils and enzymes, banana peels have a host of great applications.

Peels can be applied to splinters to help loosen the foreign object and heel the wound, they can assist with the removal of warts, and they can also stop a scratched CD or DVD from skipping by filling in the scratches.

You can also use them to remove ink stains or soothe insect bites!