issue 317 - October 1999
Cartoonist Viv Quillin tells you more than
you really need know about bananas.
The banana resembles a tree but is a giant herb that has
flowers without sex organs and fruit without seeds.
Buddha made the banana plant the symbol of the futility
of earthly possessions because of its infertility.
Classic Chinese iconography shows him meditating on
the key to wisdom at the foot of a banana plant.
There are just two main varieties of banana consumed outside the tropics:
Gros Michel is susceptible to Panama disease (wilt) and leaf spot (Sigatoga)
but tolerant of the burrowing nematode worm; Cavendish is resistant to
wilt but susceptible to leaf spot and worms. No variety
resistant to all three has yet been discovered.
Recent excavations discovered the remains of a sixteenth-century banana in London,
but for the most part the fruit was ignored in Europe until the twentieth century,
since it ripened too quickly to be transported by sea.
The fruit contains large quantities of energy (90 calories per 100 grams)
and potassium (380 milligrams) - one banana provides more than an adult's daily requirement.
Singer Carmen Miranda made her name by appearing clothed in bananas,
encouraging United Fruit to adopt the 'Miss Chiquita' banana-clad figure,
now discredited by the antics of Chiquita Brands International.
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