This section is from the book "The Gardener V3", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
I believe there are not many gardeners who have had much experience in raising and cultivating seedling Pine-apples. It is a subject seldom spoken of or commented upon in the horticultural press. It so happens that I have thirty-four distinct varieties of seedlings under my care at the present time. In many instances their characters are very distinct from each other, and easily detected at first sight by cultivators of the Pine-apple. One of them is likely to become the tallest and most robust in cultivation, while at the same time it forms a plant of handsome proportions, its leaves being as straight as an arrow and covered with an unusually dense and light - coloured bloom, the spines being wider apart than in any other variety with which I am acquainted. This plant has been grown under great disadvantages, as I never was able to keep the bed in which it was plunged more than at 'a temperature of 60°, in consequence of the hot-water pipes settling down late in the autumn - and, owing to circumstances, they could not be raised to the proper level till the following spring. The sucker from which the plant was grown was weak, having been taken from a sickly plant which had to be stripped of every leaf, and scrubbed and otherwise cleansed to get rid of scale.
The small sucker made its appearance from this roughly-handled stool late in the autumn of 1868; and on the 2d of January 1870 I cut a fruit from it weighing almost 7 lb. On the same date I cut a smooth Cayenne 5½ lb. weight, and sent them both to the dessert on the same day. When the seedling was cut, the juice flowed from it, covering the bottom of the plate as if a sauce had been poured over it. The smooth Cayenne, in comparison with the seedling, was dry and juice-less. True, the latter grew in the row of plants next the outside of the bed, and probably had even less bottom-heat than the seedling.
I may state that the dwarfest of the seedlings does not measure more than 12 inches in height, and it is expected to show fruit very soon; so that in one batch of seedlings we have the extreme of stature at least, showing that the Pine-apple from seed is as variable as any other fruit. So far as I am aware, the Pine-apple in a cultivated state seldom forms a perfect seed; but exceptions in this case as in all others occur now and then. The fruit the seed was taken from in this instance was a Montserrat grown by my predecessor here. Thirty-four varieties became strong enough to be pricked off, grown on, and fruited by the late Mr Stevenson. The Montserrat fruit in question was cut in 1860, and was pronounced bad, or not in good condition, and when shown to Mr Stevenson he discovered the seeds and sowed them. Many fruit of their first produce he sent to the London Fruit Committee. Of some of them favourable reports were given, but a good many of them were pronounced indifferent, while others were considered to be in cultivation before; but I do not think the fruit committee had a good chance of forming a fair decision, as the characters of the seedling produce were not fully developed, some of the fruit weighing only 1½ lb. and the heaviest 4¾ lb.
Some may consider that time has been lost in planting these a second time; but when all the leaves have to be sacrificed, and the stumps only kept to raise a clean stock, loss of time is accounted for. I hope to fruit more of these seedling varieties this season, when a little more about them may be made known. J. Hunter.
[We regard this as an interesting communication. If a more hardy Pineapple could be raised it would certainly be a great object gained. The strong variety seems to thrive better in a low temperature than the smooth Cayenne. We shall be anxious to hear what sort of a fruit the dwarf one throws; a compact Pine with a good fruit would be an acquisition. - ED].