Common Name: Pineapple.
Etymology: Ananas: From the word ‘nanas’ meaning ‘excellent fruit’ once used by the Tupi people of Brazil. comosus: having long or abundant hair
History: The pineapple is thought to have originated in the area between Brazil and Paraguay, South America. It was spread by natives throughout South America where it eventually reached the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico and was cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs. Christopher Columbus and his crew are believed to have been the first Europeans to have tasted the fruit (using it to prevent scurvy), they encountered the pineapple in 1493 on the island of Guadeloupe. He called it ‘piña de Indes’, meaning ‘pine of the Indians’, and brought it back with him to Spain who in turn introduced it into the Philippines, Hawaii, Zimbabwe, Guam and India by the 1500’s. The English word pineapple originated in 1398 referring to the reproductive organs of conifer trees. Europeans called this tropical fruit pineapple (term first recorded in that sense in 1664) because of their resemblance to what is now know as the pinecone and the term pinecone (for pinecones to differentiate them from pineapples) was first recorded in 1694. The pineapple was brought to Europe by the Dutch in the 1600’s where it was grown in hothouses called ‘pineries’. Because direct import was expensive and the huge cost in equipment and labour required to grow them in a temperate climate, the Pineapple became a symbol of wealth and were often used as displays at dinner parties by the wealthy rather than being eaten. In the second half of the 18th century the production of the pineapple became the subject of great rivalry between wealthy aristocrats. In 1761 John Murray (4th Earl of Dunmore) built ‘Dunmore Pineapple’ an extravagant building in Scotland that had a hothouse for growing pineapples on the ground floor and a 14m tall stone pineapple on the roof (this building still exists today). James Dole (considered the “King of Pineapples” in the USA) did a lot to popularize the fruit and make it affordable with his pineapple plantations in Hawaii, his goal was to have canned pineapples in every grocery store in the country. Lutheran missionaries introduced the pineapple to Australia in the 1830’s and it now grows predominantly along the coast of Queensland, however, southeast Asia (in particular Thailand) produces more pineapples than any other country in the world.
10 Uses of Pineapple: Raw pineapple is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C (rivaling that of Oranges). They also have ‘bromelian’ an enzyme effective in digestive aid and as an anti-inflammatory and induces a feeling of well being.
- Can be used in a multitude of recipes for cooking and refreshing drinks.
- Anti-cancer properties from bromelain.
- As a marinade and tenderizer for meats.
- Cures sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis and gout through its anti-inflammatory nature.
- Helps maintain hearts health and reduce hypertention by normalizing blood pressure.
- Leaves can be and are used to produce textile fiber.
- Makes the ‘Pina Colada’ possible.
- Natural solution for skin problems (acne, dry skin, cracked lips or feet).
- Strong antioxidant that helps boost the immunity system.
- What would life be like without the ‘Hawaiian pizza’?
Basic description: Grows as a rosette of stiff, spiny, grey-green leaves. It is a ground growing plant. Purple blue flowers with red bracts appear on a central stem, after the flowers fade fruit forms. These are topped with a tuft of leaves that can be used to grow a new plant. The pineapple itself is not, strictly speaking, a fruit but rather 100-200 fruitlets all fused together.
Pineapple requirements & maintenance: pH 4.5 to 6.5 (very acid to acid) they can grow in a wide range of soils but prefer a well drained sandy loam (the soil should have a low lime content). Full sun to slightly shady position in sub-tropical to tropical climates, the Pineapple can survive long hot dry spells but this can also retard growth. Pineapples are sensitive to waterlogging and frost.
Growing season: All year round but mainly from spring through to mid summer. Pineapples will produce one pineapple each year but will take 2-3 years to produce their first fruit.
Companion plants: Not really applicable due to the tough exterior of this plant.
Problem Solving without chemicals:
- Mealybug: Oval shaped white to pink insects. Spray with white oil, squash by hand or introduce preditory insects like ladybirds and lacewings Avoid any type of chemical as it will do a better job at killing predatory insects than the mealybug.
- Nematodes: Tiny worm-like animals that are very common in soil causing galls and knots on roots that show as symptoms on the plant of stunting, wilting or chlorosis (yellowing). Rotate crops to break the cycle.
- Phytophthora root rot and heart rot: Pathogen in wet soils that rots roots causing yellowing and dieback of plant from the tips. It is spread in water through chemical stimulus as well as root-generated electric fields. Add compost to soil (stimulates competition also ammonia and volatile organic acids released by decomposing organic matter kill Phytophthora), improve drainage.
- Pineapple red mite: Tiny 0.3mm-0.4mm bright red/orange mite that is found on the leaves, where it feeds, particularly on the crown. Can cause death of leaves, small fruit (or no fruit) and damage that allows other fungus’s to enter plant. Death of plant in heavy infestations. Remove leaves or entire plant, introduce predators such as hoverflies which are a natural enemy.
- Pineapple scale: Small insects with off-white, dirty looking outer shell that attach themselves to underside of leaves and at base of plant in early infections. They cause stunting and a plant unable to produce good fruit. Use White-oil at recommended dose on bottle or hand remove. Get rid of leaves or entire plants in heavy infestations.
- White grubs: White curl grubs are the larvae of scarab or cockchafer beetles and eat the roots of the plant. A wet towel or hessian bag around the area will bring them to the surface overnight where they can be removed in the morning (birds love them so encourage them in your yard).
Growing pineapples: Pineapples (being a bromeliad and not having a big root system) do not require much watering or high quality soils. They get a lot of water and nutrients via their leaves and do not lose much to evaporation. Plants can be grown easily in the ground or in pots from the fresh cut head of a pineapple fruit and the plants can live for up to 50 years. It takes a long time for a pineapple plant to produce fruit, normally two years. Every pineapple plant produces one pineapple each year and cannot ripen further after it is picked (it will soften and yellow further from the bottom though). One of the ways you tell if a pineapple is ripe is by smelling it.
- Minako Howarth.
- What Garden Pest and Disease is That (Judy McMaugh).
- Yates Garden Guide.