The crop of the day:

Pineapple (Ananas comosus, Bromeliaceae)

© Paul Gepts 2005

Pineapple, Ananas comosus


Pineapple, the plant

  • Herbaceous perennial; 50 cm high; "fruit" = swollen carpels, lower partion of calyx, and inflorescence axis; actual fruit (ripened ovaries) inside "fruit" 

  • Adapted to xerophytic conditions (like other members of the Bromeliaceae):
    • lower epidermis: trichomes absorbing moisture from air + reduce transpiration
    • overlapping leaf bases: reservoir for water
    • root system: long roots: water in deep soil; short roots: water spilled from leaf reservoir
    • annual rainfall: 500 mm - 5,500 mm
  • Cultivated in frost-free tropics
    • most production is consumed locally; small trade in fresh fruit; most export production for canning or juice
    • Philippines, Taiwan: leaf fibres: cloth, cordage
    • stems, fruits: source of bromelain (~ papain): not commercially exploited
    • Maturity:
      • Fruits should ripen on the plant for maximum flavor and sugar content
      • Judging the degree of ripeness requires experience and knowledge of the particular variety.
Vriesea splendens

Tillandsia usneoides or Spanish moss

Pineapple, its origin and history

  • Origin:
    • Related wild species (part of primary gene pool): all from lowlands of S. America: Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia
    • Difficult to distinguish truly wild populations and escapes from cultivation
    • Most closely related wild species: A. bracteatus and A. fritz-mulleri, both with fleshy fruits
    • Selection for fruit size, self-incompatibility and parthenogenesis following pollination by other clone (no seeds!)
    • Vegetative reproduction:
      • fruitcrown ("slips" which arise from the stalk below the fruit)
      • basal offshoots ("suckers" which originate at the axils of leaves)
      • "crowns" which grow from the top of the fruits
      • "ratoons" which come out from underground portions of the stem
      • "slips" and "suckers" are the preferred planting material; production after 2 years vs. 4 years for seed propagation
A. parzaguensis

A. nanus
  • History:
    • Dispersal in tropical America prior to 1492; "ananas": word in Guarani
    • After 1492, dispersal over the entire world in tropics: "piña": pine cone
    • Most important cultivar: "Cayenne" (French Guyana)
    • Hawaii:
      • Cayenne cultivar
      • Flower initiation triggered by auxin
      • Displaced to other countries (Philippines, Thailand, etc.) because of high land and labor costs
  • Also used as animal (ruminant) feed:
    • leaves: up to 100 t/ha
    • pineapple "bran" (outer peel and central core) resulting from processing for canning (50% of fruit fresh weight): up to 10 t/ha