[Sca-cooks] bananas

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Wed Jul 28 04:15:30 PDT 2010

Ok for your files and for curiosity sake, there are 23 references to  
banana or bananas in EEBO-TCP.

  Here are some of the more interesting selections:

  from 1597

  Chap. 1. Of the situation of the Royall Cittie of the Kingdome of  

Other fruites there are, which they call Banana and we verily thinke  
to be the Muses of Aegypt and Soria, sauing that in those countreyes  
they growe to be as bigge as trees, but here they cut them yearely, to  
the end they may beare the better, The fruit is very sweet in smell,  
and of good nourishment. page 111

Lopes, Duarte.

A report of the kingdome of Congo, a region of Africa. And of the  
countries that border rounde about the same... Drawen out of the  
writinges and discourses of Odoardo Lopez a Portingall, by Philippo  
Pigafetta. Translated out of Italian by Abraham Hartwell. 1597.


from 1633

  CHAP. 136. Of Adams Apple tree, or the West-Indian Plantaine.

  Musae fructus exactior Icon. An exacter figure of the Plantaine fruit.

The Place.

This admirable tree groweth in Egypt, Cyprus, and Syria, neere vnto a  
chiefe city there called Alep, which we call Aleppo, and also by  
Tripolis, not far from thence: it groweth also in Cana|ra, Decan,  
Guzarate, and Bengala, places of the East Indies.

The Time.

 From the root of this tree shooteth forth yong springs or shoots,  
which the people take vp and plant for the increase in the Spring of  
the yeare. The leaues wither away in September, as is aboue said.

The Names.

It is called Musa by such as trauell to Aleppo: by the Arabians, Musa  
Maum: in Syria, Mose: The Grecians and Christians which inhabit Syria,  
and the Iewes also, suppose it to be that tree of whose fruit Adam did  
taste; which others thinke to be a ridiculous fable: of Pliny, Opuntia.

It is called in the East Indies (as at Malauar where it also groweth)  
Palan: in Malayo, Pican: and in that part of Africa which we call  
Ginny, Bananas: in English, Adams Apple tree.

Gerard, John, 1545-1612., Johnson, Thomas, d. 1644. The herball or  
Generall historie of plantes. Gathered by Iohn Gerarde of London  
Master in Chirurgerie very much enlarged and amended by Thomas Iohnson  
citizen and apothecarye of London. 1633


OED lists this as the earliest for the fruit.

  1563 Garcia de Orta Simples e Drogues 93 b, Tambem ha estes figos em  
Guiné, chamam lhe bananas;


Plantain turns up much earlier in the OED as it was the name of some  
herbs (greater plantain with broad flat leaves) and a form known as  
long plantain. There was also a bastard plantain.
  Here are some 16th century mentions. (There are some dating back  
much earlier.)

1516 Grete Herbal cccxliv, Plantayne or weybrede..is an herbe that ye  
greke call arnoglosse. It is called also..grete plantayne, and groweth  
in moyst places & playne feldes;

ribwort p., P. lanceolata.

1516 Grete Herbal cccxlv, Delanceolata... Longe plantayne is good  
agaynst fystales, yf the iuce be put in them dyuers dayes, it healeth  
and sleeth them.

1592 Shaks. Rom. & Jul; i. ii.

Romeo. Your Plantan leafe is excellent for that.

Ben. For what I pray thee?

Romeo. For your broken shin.

  --There's also a meaning associated with plane trees.

  Lastly is the definition "tree-like tropical herbaceous plant (Musa  
paradisiaca) closely allied to the Banana (M. sapientum)" and the  
fruit of this plant.

1555 Eden Decades ii. 197 (tr. of Italian version, 1534, of Oviedo's  
Spanish, 1526) There are also certeine plantes which the christians  
caul Platani.

  1555 Eden Decades 197 This cluster owght to bee taken from the  
plant, when any one of the Platans begynne to appere yelowe.

1589 Parke tr. Mendoza's Hist. China (Hakl. Soc.) II. 330 Orange  
trees, siders, limas, plantanos, and palmas.

1604 E. G[rimstone] D'Acosta's Hist. Indies iv. (Hakl. Soc.) I. 241  
The first that shall be needefulle to treate of is the Plantain, or  
Plantano, as the vulgar call it... The reason why the Spaniards call  
it platano (for the Indians had no such name) was, as in other trees,  
for that they have found some resemblance of the one with the other,  
even as they called some fruites prunes, pines, and cucumbers, being  
far different from those which are called by those names in Castille.

1634 Sir T. Herbert Trav. 183 Bananas or Plantanes.

hope this helps


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