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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Lehner, E and Lehner, J: Folklore and Odysseys of Food and Medicinal Plants, New York, Tudor, 1962
© 1973 Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.