AskDefine | Define pineapples

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  1. Plural of pineapple

Extensive Definition

The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a tropical plant and fruit (multiple), native to Uruguay, Brazil, and Paraguay. It is a medium tall (1–1.5 m) herbaceous perennial plant with 30 or more trough-shaped and pointed leaves 30–100 cm long, surrounding a thick stem. The pineapple is an example of a multiple fruit: multiple, spirally-arranged flowers along the axis each produce a fleshy fruit that becomes pressed against the fruits of adjacent flowers, forming what appears to be a single fleshy fruit. The leaves of the cultivar 'Smooth Cayenne' mostly lack spines except at the leaf tip, but the cultivars 'Spanish' and 'Queen' have large spines along the leaf margins. Pineapples are the only bromeliad fruit in widespread cultivation. It is one of the most commercially important plants which carry out Crassulacean acid metabolism, or CAM photosynthesis.


The name pineapple in English comes from the similarity of the fruit to a pine cone.
The word "pineapple", first recorded in 1398, was originally used to describe the reproductive organs of conifer trees (now termed pine cones). When European explorers discovered this tropical fruit, they called them "pineapples" (term first recorded in that sense in 1664) because it resembled what is known as pine cones. The term "pine cone" was first recorded in 1694 to replace the original meaning of "pineapple". In the scientific binomial Ananas comosus, ananas, the original name of the fruit, comes from the Tupi (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) word for pine nanas, as recorded by André Thevenet in 1555 and comosus means "tufted" and refers to the stem of the fruit. Other members of the Ananas genus are often called pine as well by laymen.
In Spanish pineapples are called ananá ("ananás", in Spain) or piña (see the piña colada drink). A large, sweet pineapple grown especially in Brazil is called abacaxi (/abaka'ʃiː/). In Tamil (Indian Ancient Language) is called "Annachi Pazham". In Bengali, pineapples are called "anarosh".

Wild pineapples

Certain bat-pollinated wild pineapples, members of the bromeliad family, do the exact opposite of most flowers by opening their flowers at night and closing them during the day; this protects them from weevils, which are most active during daylight hours.


The fruitlets of a pineapple are arranged in two interlocking spirals, eight spirals in one direction, thirteen in the other; each being a Fibonacci number. This is one of many examples of Fibonacci numbers appearing in nature.
The natural (or most common) pollinator of the pineapple is the hummingbird. Pollination is required for seed formation; the presence of seeds negatively affects the quality of the fruit. In Hawaii, where pineapple is cultivated on an agricultural scale, importation of hummingbirds is prohibited for this reason.
At one time, most canned and fresh pineapples came from the cultivar 'Smooth Cayenne'. Since about 2000, the most common fresh pineapple fruit found in U.S. and European supermarkets is a low-acid hybrid that was developed in Hawaii in the early 1970s. 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. Pineapples can ripen after harvest, but require certain temperatures for this process to occur. The ripening of pineapples can be rather difficult as they will not ripen for some time and in a day or two become over-ripe, therefore, pineapples are most widely available canned. To tell if a pineapple is ripe at a grocery store, shoppers should make sure the "eyes," or markings on the fruit, are uniform in size from top to bottom.

Dietary effects

Pineapple contains a proteolytic enzyme bromelain, which digests food by breaking down protein. Pineapple juice can thus be used as a marinade and tenderizer for meat. The enzymes in pineapples can interfere with the preparation of some foods, such as jelly or other gelatin-based desserts. These enzymes can be hazardous to someone suffering from certain protein deficiencies or disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Pineapples should also not be consumed by those with Hemophilia or by those with kidney or liver disease, as it may reduce the time taken to coagulate a consumer's blood.
There is evidence pointing to the anti-inflammatory benefits of bromelain. Because of this naturally occurring enzyme, the natural juice of a pineapple can, in substantial quantities, eat away at simple flesh structures like fingerprints or ulcers.
Consumers of pineapple have claimed that pineapple has benefits for some intestinal disorders; others claim that it helps to induce childbirth when a baby is overdue.
Pineapple is a good source of manganese (91 %DV in a 1 cup serving), as well as containing significant amounts of Vitamin C (94 %DV in a 1 cup serving) and Vitamin B1 (8 %DV in a 1 cup serving).

Cultivation history

The pineapple spread from its original area (central South America) through cultivation, and by the time of Christopher Columbus (1492) it grew throughout South and Central America, southern Mexico and the Caribbean (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, and pineapple pits, beginning in 1720. Commonly grown cultivars include 'Red Spanish', 'Hilo', 'Smooth Cayenne', 'St. Michael', 'Kona Sugarloaf', 'Natal Queen', and 'Pernambuco'.
Pineapple cultivation by U.S. companies began in the early 1900s on Hawaii. Dole and Del Monte began growing pineapple on the island of Oahu in 1901 and 1917, respectively. Maui Pineapple Company began pineapple cultivation on the island of Maui in 1909. In 2006, Del Monte announced its withdrawal from pineapple cultivation in Hawaii, leaving only Dole and Maui Pineapple Company in Hawaii as the USA’s largest growers of pineapples. Maui Pineapple Company markets its Maui Gold brand of pineapple and Dole markets its Hawaii Gold brand of pineapple. In 2005 Iceland started indoor commercial farming of pineapples through an extensive network of greenhouses near the volcanic ranges.
In the USA in 1986, the Pineapple Research Institute was dissolved and its assets were divided between Del Monte and Maui Land and Pineapple. Del Monte took 73-114, which it dubbed MD-2, to its plantations in Costa Rica, found it to be well-suited to growing there, and launched it publicly in 1996. (Del Monte also began marketing 73-50, dubbed CO-2, as Del Monte Gold). In 1997, Del Monte began marketing its Gold Extra Sweet pineapple, known internally as MD-2. MD-2 is a hybrid that originated in the breeding program of the now-defunct Pineapple Research Institute in Hawaii, which conducted research on behalf of Del Monte, Maui Land & Pineapple Company, and Dole.
Southeast Asia dominates world production: in 2001 Thailand produced 1.979 million tons, the Philippines 1.618 million tons while in the Americas, Brazil 1.43 million tons. Total world production in 2001 was 14.220 million tons. The primary exporters of fresh pineapples in 2001 were Costa Rica, 322,000 tons; Côte d'Ivoire, 188,000 tons; and the Philippines, 135,000 tons.
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 reproduction

Once removed during cleaning, the top of the pineapple can be planted in soil and a new fruit-bearing plant will grow in a manner similar to that of a potato or onion, which will sprout from a cutting. Alternatively, if left alone, the plant will eventually fall to one side due to the weight of the fruit, and a new plant will grow out of the top of the pineapple.


  • 'Hilo': A compact 1–1.5 kg (2-3 lb) Hawaiian variant of 'Smooth Cayenne'. The fruit is more cylindrical and produces many suckers but no slips.
  • 'Kona Sugarloaf': 2.5–3 kg (5-6 lb), white flesh with no woodiness in the center. Cylindrical in shape, it has a high sugar content but no acid. An unusually sweet fruit.
  • 'Natal Queen': 1–1.5 kg (2-3 lb), golden yellow flesh, crisp texture and delicate mild flavor. Well adapted to fresh consumption. Keeps well after ripening. Leaves spiny.
  • 'Pernambuco' ('Eleuthera'): 1–2 kg (2-4 lb) with pale yellow to white flesh. Sweet, melting and excellent for eating fresh. Poorly adapted for shipping. Leaves spiny.
  • 'Red Spanish': 1–2 kg (2-4 lb), pale yellow flesh with pleasant aroma; squarish in shape. Well adapted for shipping as fresh fruit to distant markets. Leaves spiny.
  • 'Smooth Cayenne': 2.5–3 kg (5-6 lb), pale yellow to yellow flesh. Cylindrical in shape and with high sugar and acid content. Well adapted to canning and processing. Leaves without spines. This is the variety from Hawaii, and the most easily obtainable in U.S. grocery stores. Both 73-114 and 73-50 are of this cultivar.

Ethno-medical uses

The root and fruit are either eaten or applied topically as an anti-inflammatory and as a proteolytic agent. It is traditionally used as an antihelminthic agent in the Philippines.
A root decoction is used to treat diarrhea.

Diseases of pineapple

Pineapples are subject to a variety of diseases, the most serious of which is wilt disease vectored by mealybugs. The mealybugs are generally found on the surface of pineapples, but can also be found inside the closed blossom cups. Other diseases include pink disease, bacterial heart rot, and anthracnose.


Pineapples, like bananas, are chill-sensitive. Therefore, they should not be stored in the refrigerator. They will, however, ripen if left outside of a refrigerator.

Uses in popular culture

  • In some cultures, the pineapple has become associated with the notion of welcome, an association bespoken by the use of pineapple motifs as carved decorations in woodworking. Many people bring a pineapple as a gift when meeting someone for the first time. A modern reference occurs in the USA Network television program Psych, in which the character Shawn Spencer is sometimes seen bringing people pineapples.
  • The infamous ending to Luis Buñuel's Nazarín (1959) has the title character, Father Nazario (Francisco Rabal), receiving a pineapple as charity on his way to his execution. The uselessness of the gift breaks him and makes him doubt his so far unquestioning faith and beliefs.


External links

pineapples in Arabic: أناناس
pineapples in Aymara: Achupalla
pineapples in Min Nan: Ông-lâi
pineapples in Bosnian: Ananas
pineapples in Bulgarian: Ананас
pineapples in Catalan: Ananàs
pineapples in Czech: Ananasovník chocholatý
pineapples in Danish: Almindelig Ananas
pineapples in German: Ananas
pineapples in Modern Greek (1453-): Ανανάς
pineapples in Spanish: Ananas comosus
pineapples in Esperanto: Ananaso
pineapples in French: Ananas
pineapples in Galician: Ananás
pineapples in Korean: 파인애플
pineapples in Croatian: Ananas comosus
pineapples in Indonesian: Nanas
pineapples in Icelandic: Ananas
pineapples in Italian: Ananas comosus
pineapples in Hebrew: אננס
pineapples in Haitian: Zannanna
pineapples in Latin: Ananas comosus
pineapples in Lithuanian: Valgomasis ananasas
pineapples in Hungarian: Ananász
pineapples in Malay (macrolanguage): Nanas
pineapples in Dutch: Ananas
pineapples in Japanese: パイナップル
pineapples in Polish: Ananas jadalny
pineapples in Portuguese: Ananás
pineapples in Quechua: Chirimaway
pineapples in Russian: Ананас настоящий
pineapples in Simple English: Pineapple
pineapples in Slovak: Ananás pestovaný
pineapples in Slovenian: Ananas
pineapples in Serbian: Ananas comosus
pineapples in Finnish: Ananas
pineapples in Swedish: Ananas
pineapples in Thai: สับปะรด
pineapples in Tonga (Tonga Islands): Fainā
pineapples in Turkish: Ananas
pineapples in Ukrainian: Ананас
pineapples in Contenese: 菠蘿
pineapples in Chinese: 菠蘿
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