The Cavendish Banana

The Cavendish banana, or Musa acuminata, was first brought into the UK by a plantsman called Barclay in 1829 but the head gardener at Chatsworth in Derbyshire, Joseph Paxton, obtained a plant from him. Paxton was the first to cultivate the species successfully and so the type gained the name of Cavendish - the family name of the Dukes of Devonshire who own the stately home.

Cavendish BananaThe dwarf strain of the plant is shown on hand painted Chinese wallpaper in one of Chatsworth's state rooms, the Wellington Bedroom, among many other exotic plants and animals. A legend grew up in later years that Paxton had organised an expedition to find the plant after seeing it on the wallpaper but, since the decor dates from the late 1830s, it is clear that the plant was already in the country at the time.

The plant was originally grown in Paxton's great conservatory at Chatsworth and can still be found in its greenhouses today. Fruits can also be found in most supermarkets because the Cavendish strain is widely grown commercially, particularly in the Canary Islands.