Banana: Commercial Varieties

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Historically, the most important commercial varieties have been Gros Michel and Cavendish Gros Michel, the familiar, big, yellow eating banana. It is thick skinned, robust in shipment, reliable in quality, and of adequate flavour. It has long been grown in SE Asia and Sri Lanka. In Malaysia and Indonesia it is called ‘pisang Ambon’ (Amboyna banana). Introduced to the W. Indies in 1835, it soon became the dominant variety, and is often called the Jamaican banana. Gros Michel was replaced by the Cavendish (which is a disease-resistant cultivar) in the 1950s when Panama Disease threatened to wipe out Gros Michel plantations. A variation on the original Panama Disease is now posing a threat to the Cavendish.