The Pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a
tropical plant and its fruit, native to Brazil, Bolivia, and
Paraguay. The plant is a bromeliad (Family Bromeliaceae), a
short, herbaceous perennial with thirty or more long, spined and
pointed leaves surrounding a thick stem. The fruit was named
"pineapple" because of its resemblance to a pine cone. The
native Tupi word for the fruit was "anana", meaning "excellent
fruit." Hummingbirds are the natural pollinators.
The pineapple fruit develops from many smaller berries fusing
together (called a multiple-accessory fleshy fruit). It is large
and ovoid with a tough, spikey, waxy shell of many hexagonal
sections, containing large amounts of white or yellow flesh with
a tough, fibrous core. Depending on variety, the fruit can be up
to 30 cm long and weigh more than 4 kg.
The pineapple spread from its original area through cultivation,
and by the time of Christopher Columbus it grew throughout South
and Central America and the West Indies. Columbus may have taken
a sample back to Europe. The Spanish introduced it into the
Philippines, Hawaii (introduced in the early 19th century,
first commercial plantation 1886) and Guam. The fruit was
successfully cultivated in European hothouses beginning in 1720.
Common cultivated varieties include Red Spanish, Hilo, Smooth
Cayenne, St. Michael, Kona Sugarloaf, Natal Queen, and
Pernambuco. The flesh is very tart, except for varieties such as
the Del Monte Gold which are bred for sweetness.
Southeast Asia dominates world production: in 1999 Thailand
produced 2.331 m tonnes and the Philippines 1.495 m tonnes.
Total world production in 1999 was 13.147 million tonnes.
In commercial farming flowering can be artificially induced, and
the early harvesting of the main fruit can encourage the
development of a second crop of smaller fruits.
Pineapple is commonly used in desserts and other types of fruit
dishes, or served on its own. Fresh pineapple is often somewhat
expensive as the tropical fruit is delicate and difficult to
ship. It will not ripen once harvested, so must be harvested
ripe and brought to the consumer without delay. Therefore,
pineapple is most widely available canned