Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1.  When I was suffering from malaria at Nkokongeru (the college where I taught in Uganda) Sister Kizito, the infirmarian, made me drink banana beer, which she asserted would build me up, strengthen me, and make me better.  I didn’t enjoy it [Woolwich, London, April 2024].

2.  Cure for leg cramp:  drink plenty of water and banana is good for cramp [Streatham Park, London, August 2015].

3.  About a year ago, at the age of 57, I suddenly developed eczema. It’s restricted to my outer ears. I’ve tried most of the obvious things … and a few non-obvious things, such as rubbing in banana skin for three times daily for a week (recommended by a friend; great for my 5-a-day, but bugger all good for eczema) [Worcester, October 2013].

4. My wife, who’s African – well Haringey – tells me that bananas should be peeled from the tip, not the stalk end. In Africa to peel a banana from the stalk end is not the right thing to do [Couch End, London, September 2013].

5. [Chinese man, aged 41, has lived in England for eight years] A banana is a BBC [British Born Chinese] – yellow on the outside, but white inside. I’m not a banana [Hull, November 2012].

6. I’ve been told that bananas are a good hang-over breakfast, plus sipping water of course [Leeds, March 2010].

7. Cyclists and marathon runners put bananas in their pants to stop them getting sore bums [Streatham, London, September 2006].

8. Verruca: put a piece of banana skin, pulp-side up on to the verruca and put a plaster on it. Leave until it turns black (a couple of days). Repeat a few times and the verruca drops out. It does work – I was told this by my GP and my son’s verruca went within a day or so [East Ham, London, April 2003].

9. [Singaporean Chinese man, aged c. 32] I can speak Chinese, but I can’t read it – the characters change and I always found it difficult. My Chinese friends call me ‘Banana’, because I’m yellow on the outside and white inside [Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, April 2003].

10. Banana skins heal eczema miraculously. The inside of the banana skin is rubbed on the eczema. Although it does sting/itch initially the results are startling and are achieved without any scarring. I know that banana soap can be bought (for about £8 a bar), but the skins are really excellent [Deptford, London, May 2002].

Image: Bedford, Bedfordshire; August 2015.