Pineapple is the common name for an edible tropical plant and also its fruit. It is native to the southern part of Brazil, and Paraguay. Pineapple is eaten fresh or canned and is available as a juice or in juice combinations. It is used in desserts, salads, as a complement to meat dishes and in fruit cocktail. While sweet, it is known for its high acid content (perhaps malic and/or citric). Pineapples are the only bromeliad fruit in widespread cultivation. It is one of the most commercially important plants which carry out CAM photosynthesis.
The word pineapple in English was first recorded in 1398, when it 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 of their resemblance to what is now known as the pine cone. The term pine cone was first recorded in 1694 and was used to replace the original meaning of pineapple.
The natives of southern Brazil and Paraguay spread the pineapple throughout South America, and it eventually reached the Caribbean. Columbus discovered it in the Indies and brought it back with him to Europe. The Spanish introduced it into the Philippines, Hawaii (introduced in the early 19th century, first commercial plantation 1886), Zimbabwe and Guam. The fruit was cultivated successfully 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’.
The pineapple was introduced to Hawaii in 1813; exports of canned pineapples began in 1892. Large scale pineapple cultivation by U.S. companies began in the early 1900s in Hawaii.
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.
• ‘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 for 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.