The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a tropical plant with an edible fruit, also called a pineapple,[2][3] and the most economically significant plant in the family Bromeliaceae.[4]

A pineapple on its parent plant
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Bromeliaceae
Genus: Ananas
A. comosus
Binomial name
Ananas comosus

Pineapples may be cultivated from the offset produced at the top of the fruit,[2][5] possibly flowering in five to ten months and fruiting in the following six months.[5][6] Pineapples do not ripen significantly after harvest.[7] In 2016, Costa Rica, Brazil, and the Philippines accounted for nearly one-third of the world's production of pineapples.[8]


Pineapple, whole and in longitudinal section
A young pineapple in flower

The word "pineapple" in English was first recorded to describe the reproductive organs of conifer trees (now termed pine cones). When European explorers encountered this tropical fruit in the Americas, they called them "pineapples" (first referenced in 1664, for resemblance to pine cones).[9][10]

In the scientific binomial Ananas comosus, ananas, the original name of the fruit, comes from the Tupi word nanas, meaning "excellent fruit",[11] as recorded by André Thevet in 1555, and comosus, "tufted", refers to the stem of the fruit. Other members of the genus Ananas are often called pine, as well, in other languages.[citation needed]


Pineapple in the starting stage

The pineapple is a herbaceous perennial, which grows to 1.0 to 1.5 m (3.3 to 4.9 ft) tall, although sometimes it can be taller. In appearance, the plant has a short, stocky stem with tough, waxy leaves. When creating its fruit, it usually produces up to 200 flowers, although some large-fruited cultivars can exceed this. Once it flowers, the individual fruits of the flowers join together to create a multiple fruit. After the first fruit is produced, side shoots (called 'suckers' by commercial growers) are produced in the leaf axils of the main stem. These may be removed for propagation, or left to produce additional fruits on the original plant.[5] Commercially, suckers that appear around the base are cultivated. It has 30 or more long, narrow, fleshy, trough-shaped leaves with sharp spines along the margins that are 30 to 100 cm (1.0 to 3.3 ft) long, surrounding a thick stem. In the first year of growth, the axis lengthens and thickens, bearing numerous leaves in close spirals. After 12 to 20 months, the stem grows into a spike-like inflorescence up to 15 cm (6 in) long with over 100 spirally arranged, trimerous flowers, each subtended by a bract.

The ovaries develop into berries, which coalesce into a large, compact, multiple fruit. The fruit of a pineapple is arranged in two interlocking helices, eight in one direction, 13 in the other, each being a Fibonacci number.[12]

The pineapple carries out CAM photosynthesis,[13] fixing carbon dioxide at night and storing it as the acid malate, then releasing it during the day aiding photosynthesis.

The pineapple comprises five botanical varieties, formerly regarded as separate species:[14]

  • Ananas comosus var. ananassoides
  • Ananas comosus var. bracteatus
  • Ananas comosus var. comosus
  • Ananas comosus var. erectifolius
  • Ananas comosus var. parguazensis


In the wild, pineapples are pollinated primarily by hummingbirds.[2][15] Certain wild pineapples are foraged and pollinated at night by bats.[16]

Under cultivation, because seed development diminishes fruit quality, pollination is performed by hand, and seeds are retained only for breeding.[2] Specifically in Hawaii, where pineapples were cultivated and canned industrially throughout the 20th century,[17] importation of hummingbirds was prohibited.[18]


The plant is indigenous to South America and is said to originate from the area between southern Brazil and Paraguay;[2] however, little is known about the origin of the domesticated pineapple (Pickersgill, 1976). MS Bertoni (1919)[19] considered the ParanáParaguay River drainages to be the place of origin of A. comosus.[20] The natives of southern Brazil and Paraguay spread the pineapple throughout South America, and it eventually reached the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico, where it was cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs. Columbus encountered the pineapple in 1493 on the leeward island of Guadeloupe. He called it piña de Indes, meaning "pine of the Indians", and brought it back with him to Spain, thus making the pineapple the first bromeliad to be introduced by humans outside of the New World.[21] The Spanish introduced it into the Philippines, Hawaii (introduced in the 18th century,[22] first commercial plantation 1886), Zimbabwe, and Guam. The Portuguese took the fruit from Brazil and introduced it into India by 1550.[23]

Charles II is presented with the first pineapple grown in England (1675 painting by Hendrik Danckerts).

The pineapple was brought to northern Europe by the Dutch from their colony in Surinam. The first pineapple to be successfully cultivated in Europe, is said to have been grown by Pieter de la Court at Meerburg in 1658.[24]

In England, the first pineapple was grown at Dorney Court, Dorney in Buckinghamshire, and a huge "pineapple stove" needed to grow the plants had been built at the Chelsea Physic Garden in 1723.[25] In France, King Louis XV was presented with a pineapple that had been grown at Versailles in 1733. Catherine the Great ate pineapples grown on her own estates before her death in 1796.[26] Because of the expense of direct import and the enormous cost in equipment and labour required to grow them in a temperate climate, using hothouses called "pineries", pineapples soon became a symbol of wealth. They were initially used mainly for display at dinner parties, rather than being eaten, and were used again and again until they began to rot.[27] By the second half of the 18th century, the production of the fruit on British estates had become the subject of great rivalry between wealthy aristocrats.[27] John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore built a hothouse on his estate surmounted by a huge stone cupola 14 metres tall in the shape of the fruit; it is known as the Dunmore Pineapple.[28]

John Kidwell is credited with the introduction of the pineapple industry to Hawaii; large-scale pineapple cultivation by US companies began in the early 1900s. Among the most famous and influential pineapple industrialists was James Dole, who moved to Hawaii in 1899[29] and started a pineapple plantation in 1900.[30] The companies Dole and Del Monte began growing pineapples on the island of Oahu in 1901 and 1917, respectively. Dole's pineapple company began with the acquisition of 60 acres (24 ha) of land in 1901, and grew into a major company, the Dole Food Company. Maui Pineapple Company began pineapple cultivation on the island of Maui in 1909.[31]

In the US, in 1986, the Pineapple Research Institute was dissolved and its assets divided between Del Monte and Maui Land and Pineapple. Del Monte took cultivar '73–114', dubbed 'MD-2', to its plantations in Costa Rica, found it to be well-suited to growing there, and launched it publicly in 1996 as 'Gold Extra Sweet', while Del Monte also began marketing '73–50', dubbed 'CO-2', as 'Del Monte Gold'.[32]

Del Monte pineapple fields in Bukidnon, Philippines

Dole ceased its cannery operations in Honolulu in 1991, and in 2008, Del Monte terminated its pineapple-growing operations in Hawaii.[33] In 2009, the Maui Pineapple Company reduced its operations to supply pineapples only locally on Maui,[34] and by 2013, only the Dole Plantation on Oahu grew pineapples in a volume of about 0.1 percent of the world's production.[33]

The 'Red Spanish' cultivar of pineapples were also traditionally widely cultivated in the Philippines for the textile industry from at least the 17th century. They were originally brought to the islands from Latin America during the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines. 'Smooth Cayenne' was later introduced in the early 1900s by the Bureau of Agriculture during the American colonial period. Dole and Del Monte also established plantations in the island of Mindanao in the 1920s; in the provinces of Cotabato and Bukidnon, respectively.[35][36][37] The Philippines remain one of the top exporters of pineapples in the world.[8] The Del Monte plantations are now locally managed, after Del Monte Pacific Ltd., a Filipino company, completed the purchase of Del Monte Foods in 2014.[38]



Pineapple, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy209 kJ (50 kcal)
13.12 g
Sugars9.85 g
Dietary fiber1.4 g
0.12 g
0.54 g
VitaminsQuantity %DV
Thiamine (B1)
0.079 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.032 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.5 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.213 mg
Vitamin B6
0.112 mg
Folate (B9)
18 μg
5.5 mg
Vitamin C
47.8 mg
MineralsQuantity %DV
13 mg
0.29 mg
12 mg
0.927 mg
8 mg
109 mg
1 mg
0.12 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water86.00 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

The flesh and juice of the pineapple are used in cuisines around the world. In many tropical countries, pineapple is prepared and sold on roadsides as a snack. It is sold whole or in halves with a stick inserted. Whole, cored slices with a cherry in the middle are a common garnish on hams in the West. Chunks of pineapple are used in desserts such as fruit salad, as well as in some savory dishes, including pizza toppings, or as a grilled ring on a hamburger. Traditional dishes that use pineapple include hamonado, afritada, kaeng som pla, and Hawaiian haystack. Crushed pineapple is used in yogurt, jam, sweets, and ice cream. The juice of the pineapple is served as a beverage, and it is also the main ingredient in cocktails such as the piña colada and in the drink tepache.

The European Union consumed 50% of global total for pineapple juice in 2012–2016. The Netherlands was the largest importer of pineapple juice in Europe. Thailand, Costa Rica and the Netherlands are the major suppliers to the European Union market in 2012–2016.[39] Countries consuming the most pineapple juice in 2017 were Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, having combined consumption of 47% of the world total. From 2007–2017, the largest growth in pineapple juice consumption was by Angola. The consumption of pineapple juice in China and India is low compared to their populations.[40]


The 'Red Spanish' cultivar of pineapples were once extensively cultivated in the Philippines. The long leaves of the cultivar were the source of traditional piña fibers, an adaptation of the native weaving traditions with fibers extracted from abacá. These were woven into lustrous lace-like nipis fabrics usually decorated with intricate floral embroidery known as calado and sombrado. The fabric was a luxury export from the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period and gained favor among European aristocracy in the 18th and 19th centuries. Domestically, they were used to make the traditional barong Tagalog, baro't saya, and traje de mestiza clothing of the Filipino upper class, as well as women's kerchiefs (pañuelo). They were favored for their light and breezy quality, which was ideal in the hot tropical climate of the islands. The industry was destroyed in the Second World War and is only starting to be revived.[35][36][41]


Raw pineapple pulp is 86% water, 13% carbohydrates, 0.5% protein, and contains negligible fat (table). In a 100-gram reference amount, raw pineapple supplies 50 calories, and is a rich source of manganese (44% Daily Value, DV) and vitamin C (58% DV), but otherwise contains no micronutrients in significant amounts.[42]

Pineapple production – 2017
Country (millions of tonnes)
  Costa Rica
Source: FAOSTAT of the United Nations[43]


In 2017, world production of pineapples was 27.4 million tons, led by Costa Rica, the Philippines, Brazil, and Thailand as the largest producers.[43]


In commercial farming, flowering can be induced artificially, and the early harvesting of the main fruit can encourage the development of a second crop of smaller fruits. Once removed during cleaning, the top of the pineapple can be planted in soil and a new plant will grow. Slips and suckers are planted commercially.[2]

Growing pineapples in a greenhouse
Red pineapple (Ananas bracteatus)

Ethical and environmental concerns

Three-quarters of the pineapples sold in Europe are grown in Costa Rica, where pineapple production is highly industrialised. Growers typically use 20 kg (44 lb) of pesticides per hectare in each growing cycle,[44] a process that may affect soil quality and biodiversity. The pesticides—organophosphates, organochlorines, and hormone disruptors—have the potential to affect workers' health and can contaminate local drinking water supplies.[44] Many of these chemicals have potential to be carcinogens, and may be related to birth defects.[44]

Because of commercial pressures, many pineapple workers in Costa Rica—60% of whom are Nicaraguan—are paid low wages.[quantify] European supermarkets' price-reduction policies have lowered growers' incomes.[44] One major pineapple producer contests these claims.[45]


Many cultivars are known.[2] The leaves of the commonly grown "smooth cayenne" are smooth,[46] and it is the most commonly grown worldwide. Many cultivars have become distributed from its origins in Paraguay and the southern part of Brazil, and later improved stocks were introduced into the Americas, the Azores, Africa, India, Malaysia and Australia.[2] Varieties include:[citation needed]

  • "Hilo" is a compact, 1.0- to 1.5-kg (2– to 3-lb) Hawaiian variant of smooth cayenne; the fruit is more cylindrical and produces many suckers, but no slips.
  • "Kona sugarloaf", at 2.5 to 3.0 kg (5–6 lb), has white flesh with no woodiness in the center, is cylindrical in shape, and has a high sugar content but no acid; it has an unusually sweet fruit.
  • "Natal queen", at 1.0 to 1.5 kg (2 to 3 lb), has golden yellow flesh, crisp texture, and delicate mild flavor; well-adapted to fresh consumption, it keeps well after ripening. It has spiny leaves, and is grown in Australia, Malaysia, and South Africa.
  • "Pernambuco" ("eleuthera") weighs 1–2 kg (2–4 lb), and has pale yellow to white flesh. It is sweet, melting in texture, and excellent for eating fresh; it is poorly adapted for shipping, has spiny leaves, and is grown in Latin America.
  • "Red Spanish", at 1–2 kg (2–4 lb), has pale yellow flesh with a pleasant aroma, is squarish in shape, and well-adapted for shipping as fresh fruit to distant markets; it has spiny leaves and is grown in Latin America and the Philippines. It was the original pineapple cultivar in the Philippines grown for their leaf fibers (piña) in the traditional Philippine textile industry.[35][36]
  • "Smooth cayenne", a 2.5- to 3.0-kg (5- to 6-lb), pale yellow– to yellow-fleshed, cylindrical fruit with high sugar and acid content, is well-adapted to canning and processing; its leaves are without spines. It is an ancient cultivar developed by Amerind peoples.[32] In some parts of Asia, this cultivar is known as Sarawak, after an area of Malaysia in which it is grown.[47] It is one of the ancestors of cultivars "73-50" (also called "MD-1" and "CO-2") and "73–114" (also called "MD-2").[32] Smooth cayenne was previously the variety produced in Hawaii, and the most easily obtainable in U.S. grocery stores, but was replaced over the course of the mid-1990s and 2000s by MD-2.[32]
  • Some Ananas species are grown as ornamentals for color, novel fruit size, and other aesthetic qualities.


Pineapple fruits and peels contain diverse phytochemicals, among which are polyphenols, including gallic acid, syringic acid, vanillin, ferulic acid, sinapic acid, coumaric acid, chlorogenic acid, epicatechin, and arbutin.[48][49]


Present in all parts of the pineapple plant,[50] bromelain is a mixture of proteolytic enzymes. Bromelain is under preliminary research for a variety of clinical disorders, but to date has not been adequately defined for its effects in the human body.[51] Bromelain may be unsafe for some users, such as in pregnancy, allergies, or anticoagulation therapy.[51]

If having sufficient bromelain content, raw pineapple juice may be useful as a meat marinade and tenderizer.[52] Although pineapple enzymes can interfere with the preparation of some foods or manufactured products, such as gelatin-based desserts or gel capsules,[53] their proteolytic activity responsible for such properties may be degraded during cooking and canning. The quantity of bromelain in a typical serving of pineapple fruit is probably not significant, but specific extraction can yield sufficient quantities for domestic and industrial processing.[52][54]

Pests and diseases

Pineapples are subject to a variety of diseases, the most serious of which is wilt disease vectored by mealybugs[55] typically found on the surface of pineapples, but possibly in the closed blossom cups.[2] Other diseases include citrus pink disease, bacterial heart rot, anthracnose,[55] fungal heart rot, root rot, black rot, butt rot, fruitlet core rot, and yellow spot virus.[56] Pineapple pink disease (not citrus pink disease) is characterized by the fruit developing a brownish to black discoloration when heated during the canning process. The causal agents of pink disease are the bacteria Acetobacter aceti, Gluconobacter oxydans, Pantoea citrea.[57][58] and Tatumella ptyseos.[59][60]

Some pests that commonly affect pineapple plants are scales, thrips, mites, mealybugs, ants, and symphylids.[56]

Heart-rot is the most serious disease affecting pineapple plants. The disease is caused by Phytophthora cinnamoni and P. parasitica, fungi that often affect pineapples grown in wet conditions. Since it is difficult to treat, it is advisable to guard against infection by planting resistant cultivars where these are available; all suckers that are required for propagation should be dipped in a fungicide, since the fungus enters through the wounds.[61]

Storage and transport

Some buyers prefer green fruit, others ripened or off-green. A plant growth regulator, Ethephon, is typically sprayed onto the fruit one week before harvest, developing ethylene, which turns the fruit golden yellow. After cleaning and slicing, a pineapple is typically canned in sugar syrup with added preservative.[2]

A pineapple never becomes any riper than it was when harvested.[62]

The fruit itself is quite perishable[2] and if it is stored at room temperature, it should be used within two days; however, if it is refrigerated, the time span extends to 5–7 days.

Symbolism and cultural history

Mimi Sheller writes: "The pineapple entered European iconography as a symbol of welcome and hospitality, and also eventually found its way into botanical gardens such as the Chelsea Physic Garden, where it was grown in heated pits."[63] The sweet fruit had a "mysterious aura" in the Age of Sail because except for a "small elite with access to glass hothouses", tropical fruits could only be tasted where they were cultivated.[63] Christopher Cumo writes that "The Spanish who followed Columbus delighted in eating pineapple and in writing about it for a European public eager to learn of the flora and fauna of the Americas ... The pineapple was first a luxury because transit from the tropics to Europe was expensive in the age of sail. In this respect, pineapple was much like sugar, a commodity of privilege before it became an item of the masses."[64] Cumo writes that "pineapple was the fruit of colonialism" because the Portuguese, French, Dutch, and British all sought to establish pineapple plantations in the tropics of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.[64]

In architecture, pineapple figures are a decorative element symbolizing hospitality.[65][66][67] Usually in plaster or carved wood,[67] pineapples images occur in finials,[65][67] pendants,"[67]broken" pediments,[66] and door knockers.[68]

Pineapples have long been associated with the Hawaiian Islands, to the extent that the pineapple is sometimes used as a symbol of Hawaii,[69] despite the decline of the pineapple industry in that state.[70] Foods with pineapple in them are sometimes known as "Hawaiian" for this reason alone.[71]


See also


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  • Menzel, Christopher. "Tropical and Subtropical Fruit". Encyclopedia of Agricultural Science Volume 4. ISBN 0122266706. Charles J Arntzen. New York: Elsevier Science Publishing Co. Inc., Academic Press, 2012. 380–382.

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