"Phloem bundles." Never heard of 'em? Well, believe it or not, you've probably been dealing with them your entire life. The bundles, as they're officially known, are those extra bits you see when you peel a banana. You know, the pale strings that you can't quite seem to remove in one piece. While you may never have given them too much thought (besides the momentary annoyance), you've probably at least had a few hypotheses about the reason for their existence.
You've likely already realized, in those passing moments, that they're not part of the inner fruit flesh that you actually eat. They're a little too thick to fit in. But you've probably also come to the conclusion that they're not a part of the peel, either, since they're so much thinner and less rigid.
Well, both of these assumptions, as subconscious as they may have been, were correct. As it turns out, phloem bundles look different than both the peel and the banana because they are different. They're an entirely separate piece of the fruit (that's why they get their own name!) with a purpose of their own. And, as reported by Huffington Post, it's a very important purpose at that.
The bundles are made up of, you guessed it, phloem, which is a type of tissue that helps to deliver nutrients to all the different parts of the fruit. In a way, then, the strings make up the banana's circulatory system, helping to transmit nutrients from its bottom to its top.
Of course, none of this helps the fact that they're really very annoying to remove. But as you may have suspected, they're actually edible... so all that extra work you've been doing is nobody else's fault but your own. By the way, banana peels, too, are technically edible, though we doubt you're going to start eating those anytime soon. Chew on that.
This story originally appeared on Foodandwine.com.