Pineapple facts for kids
|A pineapple, on its parent plant|
The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a tropical plant with an edible fruit, also called pineapples, and the most economically significant plant in the family Bromeliaceae.
Pineapples may be cultivated from the offset produced at the top of the fruit, possibly flowering in five to ten months and fruiting in the following six months. Pineapples do not ripen significantly after harvest. In 2016, Costa Rica, Brazil, and the Philippines accounted for nearly one-third of the world's production of pineapples.
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).
In the scientific binomial Ananas comosus, ananas, the original name of the fruit, comes from the Tupi word nanas, meaning "excellent fruit", 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.
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. 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.
The pineapple carries out CAM photosynthesis, fixing carbon dioxide at night and storing it as the acid malate, then releasing it during the day aiding photosynthesis.
Under cultivation, because seed development diminishes fruit quality, pollination is performed by hand, and seeds are retained only for breeding. Specifically in Hawaii, where pineapples were cultivated and canned industrially throughout the 20th century, importation of hummingbirds was prohibited.
The plant is indigenous to South America and is said to originate from the area between southern Brazil and Paraguay; however, little is known about the origin of the domesticated pineapple (Pickersgill, 1976). MS Bertoni (1919) considered the Paraná–Paraguay River drainages to be the place of origin of A. comosus. 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. The Spanish introduced it into the Philippines, Hawaii (introduced in the 18th century, first commercial plantation 1886), Zimbabwe, and Guam. The Portuguese took the fruit from Brazil and introduced it into India by 1550.
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.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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 and started a pineapple plantation in 1900. 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.
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'.
Dole ceased its cannery operations in Honolulu in 1991, and in 2008, Del Monte terminated its pineapple-growing operations in Hawaii. In 2009, the Maui Pineapple Company reduced its operations to supply pineapples only locally on Maui, and by 2013, only the Dole Plantation on Oahu grew pineapples in a volume of about 0.1 percent of the world's production.
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. The Philippines remain one of the top exporters of pineapples in the world. 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.
In the world, there are a lot of varieties of pineapples. In fact, there are more than one hundred varieties and they grow in different sizes too. Four of those are the main varieties:
- Sugarloaf pineapple: It usually grows in Mexico and Venezuela. The flesh is white and there is no woodiness.
- Red Spanish pineapple: It is found in Central America's countries. The yellow of this pineapple is pale and it has the shape of a square.
- Queen pineapple: It grows in the Hluhluwe region of South Africa. It is less sweet, the flesh is rich and yellow. The flavor of this variety is mild.
- Smooth Cayenne pineapple: This variety comes from Hawaii. It contains high sugar and acid content. The leaves are spineless and they have a cylinder shape.
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. 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.
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.
Early 19th century pañuelo in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
19th century cotton and pineapple textile in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
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.
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, 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. Many of these chemicals have potential to be carcinogens, and may be related to birth defects.
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. One major pineapple producer contests these claims.
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.
A pineapple never becomes any riper than it was when harvested.
The fruit itself is quite perishable 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." 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. 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." 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.
In architecture, pineapple figures are a decorative element symbolizing hospitality. Usually in plaster or carved wood, pineapples images occur in finials, pendants,"broken" pediments, and door knockers.
Pineapples have long been associated with the Hawaiian Islands, to the extent that the pineapple is sometimes used as a symbol of Hawaii, despite the decline of the pineapple industry in that state. Foods with pineapple in them are sometimes known as "Hawaiian" for this reason alone.
Pineapple contains fiber and vitamin C. The stem of the pineapple contains an enzyme having healing effects, anti-inflammatory effects and it may reduce edema. The enzyme from the pineapple is also beneficial for a person who wants to go on a good diet. Pineapple contains a lot of manganese and the body needs manganese to build strong bones.
Pineapple Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.