Pineapple, a tropical fruit, so called from its resemblance in form and external appearance to the cones of some species of pine; its botanical name in most general use is ananassa sativa, but some botanists who do not regard it as distinct from Bromelia call it B. ananas. . The Bromeliacea, to which it belongs,are a small family of endogenous plants, quite nearly related to the canna, ginger, and banana families, and differing from them in having nearly regular flowers, and six stamens all perfect; they are generally stemless and mostly epiphytes in the forests of tropical America; some of the bromelias, bilbergias, and others are brilliant hothouse plants; and the family is represented in our southern states by several species of Tillandsia, one of which, a slender branching species, extends northward to the Dismal swamp in Virginia, and is popularly known as long moss. As the pineapple has become naturalized in parts of Asia and Africa, its American origin has been disputed, but there is little doubt that it is a native of Brazil, and perhaps of some of the Antilles; the aboriginal South American name was nanas, from which the Portuguese derived ananas, a name which it holds in most European languages, and with a different termination serves for the genus.
The pineapple is a biennial, with the habit of an aloe, but with much thinner leaves, which form a crown of foliage, each leaf being handsomely recurved, and furnished upon its edges, except in one variety, with small sharp spines; from the centre of the cluster of foliage arises a stem 2 or 3 ft. high, on the upper portion of which the flowers are crowded in the form of a conical spike; each flower consists of three outer divisions, or calyx and three inner, much longer, and petal-like divisions, all attached to the (inferior) three-celled ovary; six stamens, and three styles; each flower is placed in the axil of a bract, the upper bracts, which are without flowers, developing at the top of the stem as a crown of small crowded leaves. The pineapple in cultivation rarely produces seeds, but in ripening the whole flower cluster undergoes a remarkable change; all parts become enormously enlarged, and when quite ripe, fleshy and very succulent, being pervaded by a very saccharine highly flavored juice.
Instead of being a fruit in the strict botanical sense of the term, it is an aggregation of accessory parts, of which the fruit proper, the ripened ovary, forms but a small portion; in this succulent mass, gorged with juice and blended together, are the central stem, the bracts, calyx, corolla, and ovary, all much diverted from their normal form, and together making what is called a syncarpous or collective fruit; indeed, the pineapple is analogous in structure to the mulberry, though that ripens its seed. Upon the exterior tessellated surface of the pineapple can be traced the tips of the bracts which support the flowers, and the points of the petals; a careful dissection will show all the parts of the flowers, though greatly distorted, and even the stamens may be frequently detected. The first pineapples known in England were sent as a present to Cromwell; the first cultivated in that country were raised about 1715, though they were grown in Holland in the previous century. The successful cultivation of the pineapple was formerly considered one of the highest achievements in horticulture, and the works of a few years ago are tediously elaborate in their instructions; but the matter has been of late so much simplified that any one who can command the proper temperature and moisture may expect success.
Pineapples are taken from the West Indies to England in considerable quantities, but the fruit is so inferior to that raised under glass that its cultivation for market is successfully prosecuted. The price quoted in London in April, 1875, was 3s. to 6s. a pound, while the whole imported fruit was sold at about half a crown. The largest fruit on record as the produce of the English pineries weighed 14 lbs. 12 oz. Better West Indian pineapples are sold in our markets than in those of England, as we are nearer the places of growth, but the fruit raised under glass is greatly superior to the best imported specimens. In 1874 there were sent to New York 4,937,125 pineapples, of which 1,484,-673, or about 30 per cent., perished on the voyage. Of these, 25 full cargoes came from Eleuthera, 21 from San Salvador, 15 from Harbor island, and a smaller number and parts of cargoes from about a dozen other ports. The business of canning pineapples is largely pursued at Nassau, New Providence, whence many are also exported whole, both to England and the United States. - More than 50 varieties are enumerated, and among these Lindley thought were those sufficiently distinct to be derived from four different species; the plant is evidently very variable, and when South America was first visited by Europeans, they found the natives cultivating three distinct varieties or species.
New varieties are obtained from seed, which the cultivated plant on rare occasions perfects, but which the partially wild plants afford more abundantly; while established sorts are propagated by means of the suckers produced freely by most varieties, or by the crowns, which are less desirable than suckers, not producing fruit so soon; some varieties with proper management will be in fruit in about 18 months from the time the suckers are rooted. Among the most esteemed varieties, the Queen, smooth-leaved Cayenne, Charlotte Rothschild, and Prince Albert are regarded as the best and freest fruiting. Aside from its use as a dessert fruit in its whole state, large quantities are canned in Jamaica and other localities for exportation. The juice is used in considerable quantities in flavoring ices and sirups for soda water; the expressed juice is put into bottles, heated through by means of a water bath, and securely corked while hot; if stored in a cool place, it will preserve its flavor perfectly for a year. The unripe fruit is exceedingly acrid, and its juice in tropical countries is used as a vermifuge.
The variegated pineapple (A. sa-tiva variegata), of unknown origin, has leaves 2 or 3 ft. long, green in the centre, margined with a rich cream color, and tinged with red on the edges; it is a most effective decorative plant for the hothouse in winter, or for a vase in the open air in summer. - The leaves of the pineapple contain an abundance of strong and very fine fibres, which are sometimes woven into fabrics of exceeding delicacy and lightness; it is probable that the fabrics advertised as pineapple goods are from the fibres of other Bromeliacem, of which there are many, especially the so-called wild pineapple, Bromelia pinguin, with leaves 5 to 8 ft. long, abounding in fibre, remarkably fine in the young leaf.
Pineapple (Ananassa sativa).
Flower of Pineapple, with Section.