It is believed that Bananas are old as civilization itself, according to most reliable historical sources, and scientists believe that Bananas may have been easily the world’s first fruit. The first bananas are believed to have cultivated in the region around the Malaya Peninsula, the Far East – Indonesia, New Guinea and the Philippines.
Of the thousands of banana types that have been cultivated and grown on our planet, The Cavendish, neither dubbed as the king nor queen of bananas, is the only variety that is best known to us, with a high global reach.
One of the most popular varieties of Bananas, the Cavendish was named after the Englishman William Spencer Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire (the 5th Duke of Devonshire, according to a few sources online).
Though the Cavendish was not originally known to Europe, it was only around 1826 that original Cavendish plants were shipped from southern China and brought to the small island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. From this tropical island some plants were shipped to England, and it was around 1834 the Duke of Devonshire received a shipment of bananas. Sir Joseph Paxton, his gardener, cultivated the plants in the greenhouses of Chatsworth House. Paxton botanically named them as “Musa cavendishii” after the Duke, and thus became the name of the fruit.
South Sea missionary John Williams took suckers from Cavendish plants to Samoa, the gorgeous Treasured Islands of the South Pacific, and from there it spread far and wide to the islands of Tonga and Fiji in the 1840’s. In fact, one of the banana types in the Cavendish group was given the name “Williams”, after John Williams. It is thought that the plants were shipped to the east coast of Australia from the Pacific Islands in the 1850s.
In the 1900s, the Cavendish turned out to be one of the most popular varieties of Banana and remains so to this day. It is also considered to be one of the most resilient banana types – the plant is fungi-resistant as Panama disease, a plant disease of the roots of banana plants, either harmed or destroyed most varieties of the fruit. The early Portuguese explorers who got the plant from West Africa introduced it to the Caribbean. The early Austronesian sailors, in turn, brought African bananas into Madagascar from Southeast Asia. It was in 1888 that Thomas Fyffe, a London food wholesaler, shipped his first cargo of bananas into England from the Canary Islands. Success followed him as a banana cultivator that within next five years he purchased land in the Canaries for cultivation, in a partnership with another fruit dealer named Hudson.