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Example of a rather large Cavendish banana

The Cavendish is the name for the banana cultivar used most commonly in the world banana trade.[1] One of many banana cultivars originating in Vietnam[2] and China, it became the primary replacement for the Gros Michel banana in the 1950s. Cavendish's descendant, the Dwarf Cavendish Banana, is often grown as a houseplant.

Cavendish bananas range from approximately 15–25 cm in length, and are used in baking, fruit salads, fruit compotes, and to complement foods. The outer skin is partially green when sold in food markets and turns yellow when it ripens. When over-ripe, the skin will turn black and the flesh becomes mushy. Bananas ripen naturally and are at their peak ripeness when the peel is all yellow with a few dark brown specks beginning to appear.

Its accepted name is Musa (AAA group) 'Dwarf Cavendish'. Synonyms include:

  1. Musa acuminata L. A. Colla
  2. Musa nana J. de Loureiro (name accepted at Mobot)
  3. Musa nana auct. non J. de Loureiro
  4. Musa chinensis R. Sweet
  5. Musa sinensis P. A. Sagot ex J. G. Baker
  6. Musa sinensis P. A. Sagot
  7. Musa sinensis R. Sweet ex P. A. Sagot


Panama disease

After Panama disease attacked the dominant Gros Michel ("Big Mike") variety in the 1950s, the Cavendish cultivar became the most widely cultivated banana. Because it was successfully grown in the same soils as previously affected Gros Michel plants, many presumed that the Cavendish cultivar was more resistant to Panama disease.

Contrary to this notion, in mid-2008 reports from Sumatra and Malaysia suggest that Cavendish-like cultivars may be vulnerable to Panama disease.[3] Because cultivated bananas are spread by conventional vegetative reproduction rather than through sexual reproduction, the Cavendish plants are genetically identical and cannot evolve disease resistance. As there is currently no effective pesticide against Panama disease, some have speculated about a future where Cavendish cultivars are not usable for farming. In such a scenario, a separate cultivar may be developed as a replacement (as happened with the Gros Michel).

The Honduras Foundation for Agricultural Research (FHIA) has been cross breeding wild banana types for decades, and has already created new banana varieties that are resistant to the Cavendish diseases. However, the first new varieties have a distinct apple flavor while otherwise being very similar to the Cavandish in look and handling. The FHIA-01 "Goldfinger" was registered as a patent in 1994 (US Patent PP08983) and the FHIA-03 "Sweetheart" variety is already cultivated in Cuba.

Origin of the name

Cavendish Bananas are named in honour of William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, who acquired an early specimen, and from whose hothouses the cultivars were developed for commercial exploitation worldwide.


  1. ^ details of the taxonomic naming of the cavendish banana
  2. ^ Persley, G. J.; Pamela George (1996). "Portfolio of Projects". Banana Improvement: Research Challenge and Opportunity. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Publications. p. 29. ISBN 0821337408. "Viet Nam is one of the centers of origin of Musa spp., and has many species, varieties, and clones. ... The banana export trade is primarily based on local varieties of Cavendish cultivars, which originated in Vietnam."  
  3. ^ Ploetz, R. C. 2005. Panama disease, an old nemesis rears its ugly head: Part 1, the beginnings of the banana export trades. Plant Health Progress doi:10.1094/PHP-2005-1221-01-RV.

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