The Circuitous Route of the Banana

        The native home of the common banana (Musa paradisiaca) was in all probability the humid tropical region of southern Asia. Arab traders introduced the banana from Indonesia to Madagascar, East Africa, and the Near East. In 650 AD, the plant came to northern Egypt with Mohammedan conquerors, and from there along the Mediterranean coast to West Africa. In 1460, Portuguese navigators and slave traders carried it to the Canary Islands. According to Oviedo y Valdes in his first natural history of the New World, the banana was introduced to the Americas in 1516 by Friar Tomas de Berlanga, who brought the first plant from the Canary Islands to Santo Domingo. In 1531, the Spanish conquis-tadores took the banana to Mexico, and during the 17th and 18th centuries it was cultivated in practically all of tropical America.
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