The plantain is a fruit of the Musae family, originating from the Malayan archipelago, where it appeared before 2000 BC. Primarily grown in Southeast Asia, it immediately began to show its great value both as food and medicine for the populations that integrated it into their culture. The first historical traces date back to 850 BC when it appears in the Ramayana, an important Indian epic poem in Sanskrit, and in the magnificent Buddhist temple of Borobudur in Central Java, where stone sculptures offered the fruit to the god.
In 327 BC, the victorious armies of Alexander the Great described its cultivation in the lower part of the Indus Valley in India, while in southern China, writings dating back to the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) mention that the cultivation of bananas and plantains has been practiced for more than 2000 years.
European merchants and naturalists brought news of the tree to Europe via the Silk Road in the 3rd century BC, but it was only brought there in 650 AD with the Arab conquest of the Mediterranean.
Due to the climate, it was never cultivated in Europe except in the southwestern areas of Spain and the Canary Islands. From the Mediterranean, the cultivation of plantains and bananas successfully spread in African plantations before arriving in the New World thanks to the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus and Portuguese and Spanish colonizers. In Central and South America, this fruit found an incredibly favorable climate where it gave life to the highest quality varieties and became immensely important both nutritionally and culturally for most local populations.