Sign up for the TODAY newsletter

You have successfully subscribed to the TODAY newsletter.

Subscribe now and get trending stories, celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

What are those strings on bananas? They have a name (and purpose)

by Tracy Saelinger / / Source: TODAY

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter

Reaching for a banana for a healthy snack always seems like such a good idea — until you start peeling it and remember that those annoying little strings exist.

You know the ones: Those pale, dry strings that run the length of the banana and always seem to break in half when you try to remove them?

Well, as it turns out, they have a name — "phloem bundles" — and a purpose, reports Huffington Post.

The name refers to the tissue type, aka phloem, which act as the plant's vascular system, delivering nutrients up and down the fruit.

Image:Banana
It's not just you: Those annoying little strings on bananas gross most of us out. Getty Images

Even the "unattractive name curiously recalls the unpleasant feeling that some experience when encountering a string," Lorna Piatti-Farnell writes in Bananas: A Global History.

And while, yes, it is theoretically possible to engineer a banana without the strings, that doesn't seem like a great idea, considering they're what help make it more nutritious and all. Plus, it's probably more important for researchers to focus instead on breeding bananas that can resist diseases that threaten their extinction.

Phloem bundles are edible, even if they aren't tasty, which reminds us of the debate over the peel — it, too, is technically edible, though few, if any, people in the world eat the peels, banana expert Dan Koeppel told TODAY Health & Wellness.

The inside of peels — along with any remaining bits of those phloem bundle strings, we suppose — do offer some surprising alternative uses, such as polishing leather, cleaning houseplants and even fixing scratched DVDs.

And if you love bananas but hate dealing with the strings, there's always our fave way to use them up: banana bread — just toss 'em in, phloem bundles and all.

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
MORE FROM today