Buy a banana and it will almost certainly be descended from one plant grown at an English stately home. But now we face losing one of the world’s most-loved fruits.
Sitting in picture-perfect Peak District grounds, Chatsworth House seems an unlikely birthplace for today’s global banana industry.
But practically every banana consumed in the western world is directly descended from a plant grown in the Derbyshire estate’s hothouse 180 years ago.
This is the story of how the Cavendish became the world’s most important fruit – and why it and bananas as we know them could soon cease to exist.
The birth of the Cavendish banana
Bananas have been grown at Chatsworth since 1830 when head gardener Joseph Paxton got his hands on a specimen imported from Mauritius.
He had apparently been inspired after seeing a banana plant depicted on Chinese wallpaper in one of the home’s 175 rooms, but today’s head gardener Steve Porter is sceptical about the story.
“Certainly the timings fit”, he said, “but I think it’s much more likely that Paxton was always on the lookout for new and exotic plants and was well connected enough to know when the banana plants arrived in England.”
Paxton filled a pit with “plenty of water, rich loam soil and well-rotted dung” with the temperature maintained between 18C and 30C (65F and 85F) to grow the fruit he called Musa Cavendishii after his employers (Cavendish being the family name of the Dukes and Duchesses of Devonshire).
“At that time for a family in England to be able to grow their own bananas to feed their guests was very exciting,” said Mr Porter, adding: “It still is for us today.”
In November 1835 Paxton’s plant finally flowered and by the following May it was loaded with more than 100 bananas, one of which won a medal at that year’s Horticultural Society show.
A few years later the duke supplied two cases of plants to a missionary named John Williams to take to Samoa.
Only one survived the journey but it launched the banana industry in Samoa and other South Sea islands (Williams himself was killed by natives).
Missionaries also took the Cavendish banana to the Pacific and the Canary Islands.
So the Cavendish spread, but it is only in relatively recent years that it has become the exporter’s banana of choice, its rise in popularity caused by the very thing that is now killing it off – the Panama disease.
Bananas on the brink
The Latest on: Panama disease
via Google News
The Latest on: Panama disease
- MustGrow Commences Banana Panama Disease Testing in Colombiaon September 29, 2020 at 4:43 am
Expansion/Study 29.09.2020 / 13:08 The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement. \- National State of Emergency declared in Colombia in 2019.\- Panama Disease is existential t ...
- PRESS RELEASE: MustGrow Commences Banana Panama Disease Testing in Colombiaon September 29, 2020 at 4:09 am
MustGrow's TerraMG bio-pesticide has been proven to control soil-borne diseases similar to Panama Disease.
- DA allots P100 million for R&D initiativeson September 26, 2020 at 5:00 am
and lead studies on the issues of fall armyworm and fusarium wilt or Panama disease on bananas. Of the P100 million, P50 million has been earmarked for the Research Crop Protection Center focusing ...
- How US disease control shaped colonial power politics in the Caribbeanon September 24, 2020 at 6:15 am
This led to new models of disease control for Panama. The scale of this enterprise made America’s rivals sit up. The US targeted muddy ditches, stagnant pools of water, railroad sidings and ...
- Disease-ravaged banana sector to get P 263-M gov’t assistanceon September 21, 2020 at 5:00 pm
The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association Inc. earlier called on the agency’s help to control and mitigate the spread of the wilt, commonly known as Panama disease, which did not ...
- Banana farms to get P263-M fund in fight against Panama diseaseon September 20, 2020 at 5:04 pm
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will set aside P262.7 million, partly from stimulus funds, for the banana industry, supporting measures to rehabilitate farms hit by Panama disease and ...
- Panama TR4 surveillance to be ramped up after fifth FNQ case confirmedon September 11, 2020 at 9:59 pm
Surveillance is being ramped up across all banana growing areas in the Far North as the region records its second case of Panama disease tropical race 4 in just six months. Biosecurity Queensland ...
- Panama TR4 confirmed on fifth Far North Qld propertyon September 10, 2020 at 8:17 am
A FIFTH commercial banana farm in the Tully Valley has been confirmed to have Panama disease tropical race 4. Biosecurity Queensland on Thursday confirmed the soil-borne fungal disease was present ...
- New case of Panama TR4 confirmed in Far North Queenslandon September 10, 2020 at 4:45 am
Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) has confirmed Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4) is present on a fifth commercial banana farm in the Tully Valley. Panama TR4 Program Leader Rhiannon Evans ...
- Indian scientists claim to have found a cure for Panama Diseaseon September 10, 2020 at 4:45 am
The fungal disease Fusarium Wilt -aka ‘Panama Disease’- afflicts banana plants. For the first time, Indian scientists have brought out a biopesticide that can control the disease.
via Bing News