The Origin of the Wild Banana

The Search Is on for Mysterious Banana Ancestors Found in Southeast Asia

The tropical fruit’s origin is much of a puzzle

April 14, 2010

The tropical fruit was an unexpected result of a new survey of the world’s fruit trees, which led to the discovery of a second, previously unknown species,

Roughly the size of a large melon, the wild banana or kabok is endemic to the tropical jungles of Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. It belongs to the family Musaceae, the banana family, and is also called the wild orchid banana.

For thousands of years, humans have used bananas mainly for food, but the wild bananas are a relatively recent invention of the indigenous people of the New World. But even the modern wild banana — the fruit most people know as a kabok, is a relatively recent development, having originated in Southeast Asia more than a century ago. That’s according to Richard E. Talbert, a professor of biology and plant sciences at the University of Florida, who has written extensively on the history of the fruit and its place in the evolution of tropical plants.

“Wild bananas are relatively recent in origin, having been developed by indigenous peoples in Southeast Asia and introduced to other parts of the world since the late 19th century,” he says.

Wild bananas are very unusual because their seeds — about the size of a grape — are often left on the ground following the fruit’s ripening and are covered in a thick layer of bark, a process called desiccation.

Although it’s been argued by some that the wild banana was brought to Southeast Asia by early settlers from the New World, the origin of the fruit is still a mystery.

But the fruit’s recent arrival around the world has led to the discovery of a completely new species and that has led to a debate.

For a long time, the history of the wild banana played out in a kind of mystery novel.

But when a new species appears, the past gets rewritten.

It would hardly be a surprise if the wild banana were a result of the evolution of certain tropical plant species. Many plants and animals are known to have developed in response to their environment.

What is really an unexpected discovery is how such a new species came to exist.

“It is a very unusual situation, as almost unknown parts of the tropical plant kingdom have been discovered in the past,” Tal

Leave a Comment