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 Ananas comosus subsp. var.  Pineapple
A pineapple, on its parent plant
Habit: bromeliad
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Origin: S Brazil, Paraguay
Exposure: sun
Water: moderate
Features: edible, fruit
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: 28°F270.928 K
-2.222 °C
487.67 °R
USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones: 25-27, greenhouse/house
Flower features:
Bromeliaceae > Ananas comosus var. ,

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Adaptation: The pineapples is a tropical or near-tropical plant, but will usually tolerate brief exposures to 28° F. Prolonged cold above freezing retards growth, delays maturity and causes the fruit to be more acid. Pineapples are drought-tolerant and will produce fruit under yearly precipitation rates ranging from 25 - 150 in., depending on cultivar and location and degree of atmospheric humidity. They are successfully grown in southern Florida and coastal areas of southern California. The small plant adapts well to container and greenhouse culture and makes an interesting potted plant.

Growth Habit: The pineapple plant is a herbaceous perennial, 2-1/2 to 5 ft. high with a spread of 3 to 4 ft. It is essentially a short, stout stem with a rosette of waxy, straplike leaves.

Foliage: The long-pointed leaves are 20 - 72 in. in length, usually needle tipped and generally bearing sharp, upcurved spines on the margins. They may be all green or variously striped with red, yellow or ivory down the middle or near the margins. As the stem continues to grow, it acquires at its apex a compact tuft of stiff, short leaves called the crown or top. Occasionally a plant may bear 2 or more heads instead of the normal one.

Flowers: At blooming time, the stem elongates and enlarges near the apex and puts forth an inflorescence of small purple or red flowers. The flowers are pollinated by humming-birds, and these flowers usually develop small, hard seeds. Seeds are generally not found in commercially grown pineapple.

Fruit: The oval to cylindrical-shaped, compound fruit develops from many small fruits fused together. It is both juicy and fleshy with the stem serving as the fibrous core. The tough, waxy rind may be dark green, yellow, orange-yellow or reddish when the fruit is ripe. The flesh ranges from nearly white to yellow. In size the fruits are up to 12 in. long and weigh 1 to 10 pounds or more.


A pineapple field in Veracruz, Mexico.

Location: Pineapples should be planted where the temperature remains warmest, such as the south side of a home, or in a sunny portion of the garden.

Soil: The best soil for the pineapple is a friable, well-drained sandy loam with a high organic content. The pH should be within a range of 4.5 to 6.5. Soils that are not sufficiently acid can be treated with sulfur to achieve the desired level. The plant cannot stand waterlogging and if there is an impervious subsoil, drainage needs to be improved.

Irrigation: The plant is surprisingly drought tolerant, but adequate soil moisture is necessary for good fruit production.

Fertilization: Nitrogen is essential to increase fruit size and total yield, which should be added every four months. Spraying with a urea solution is another way to supply nitrogen. Fruit weight has also been increased by the addition of magnesium. Of the minor elements, iron is the most important, particularly in high pH soils. Iron may be supplied by foliar sprays of ferrous sulfate.

Frost Protection: Pineapple plants require a frost-free environment. They are small enough to be easily covered when frost threatens, but cold weather adversely affects the fruit quality.

Harvest: It is difficult to tell when the pineapple is ready to be harvested. Some people judge ripeness and quality by snapping a finger against the side of the fruit. A good, ripe fruit has a dull, solid sound. Immaturity and poor quality are indicated by a hollow thud. The fruit should be stored at 45° F or above, but should be stored for no longer than 4 - 6 weeks.

Misc.: Fruiting can be forced when the plant is mature by using acetylene gas or a spray of calcium carbide solution (30 gms to 1 gal. water), which produces acetylene. Or calcium carbide (10 -12 grains) can be deposited in the crown of the plant to be dissolved by rain. A safer and more practical method for home growers is a foliar spray of a-naphthaleneacetic acid (1 gm in 10 gal water) or B-hydroxyethyl hydrazine. The latter is more effective. The plants usually produce for about four years, but they may last longer in California since the life cycle is slowed down by cooler weather.


Pineapples are propagated by new vegetative growth. There are four general types: slips that arise from the stalk below the fruit, suckers that originate at the axils or leaves, crowns that grow from the top of the fruits, and ratoons that come out from the under-ground portions of the stems.

Although slips and suckers are preferred, crowns are the main planting material of home gardeners. These are obtained from store-bought fruit and are removed from the fruit by twisting the crown until it comes free. Although the crown may be quartered to produce four slips, in California's marginal conditions it is best not to cut or divide the crown. The bottom leaves are removed and the crown is left to dry for two days, then planted or started in water.

Pineapples are planted outside during the summer months. A ground cover of black plastic works very well for pineapples, both as protection from weeds and for the extra heat it seems to absorb. It also helps to conserve moisture. Traditionally, plants are spaced 12 inches apart. Set crowns about 2 inches deep; suckers and slips 3 to 4 inches deep.

Pests and diseases

Mealybugs spread by ants can be a problem. Controling the ants will control the mealybugs. In most commercial growing areas, nematodes, mites and beetles can also be damaging, but these have not been a problem in California.


  • Hilo - A compact 2-3 lb. Hawaiian variant of the Smooth Cayenne. The fruit is more cylindrical and produces many suckers but no slips.
  • Kona Sugarloaf - 5-6 lbs, white flesh with no woodiness in the center. Cylindrical in shape, it has a high sugar content but no acid. An incredibly delicious fruit.
  • Natal Queen - 2-3 lbs, golden yellow flesh, crisp texture and delicate mild flavor. Well adapted to fresh consumption. Keeps well after ripening. Leaves spiny.
  • Pernambuco (Eleuthera) - 2-4 lbs with pale yellow to white flesh. Sweet, melting and excellent for eating fresh. Poorly adapted for shipping. Leaves spiny.
  • Red Spanish - 2-4 lbs, pale yellow flesh with pleasant aroma; squarish in shape. Well adapted for shipping as fresh fruit to distant markets. Leaves spiny.
  • Smooth Cayenne - 5-6 lbs, pale yellow to yellow flesh. Cylindrical in shape and with high sugar and acid content. Well adapted to canning and processing. Leaves without spines. This is the variety from Hawaii, and the most easily obtainable in U. S. grocery stores.


Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Pineapple. The pineapple (see Ananas) is indigenous to America. It produces one of the most delicious fruits now regularly on the markets. The finest qualities are developed when the fruit is permitted to ripen naturally upon the plant. For distant markets the crop has to be gathered in varying degrees of unripeness to suit the time required in transit.

The year 1850 seems to be the earliest date at which pineapple-growing was attempted in the United States. This attempt was made near St. Augustine, Florida, according to Taylor. In 1860, planting was begun on the Keys, but the want of facilities for rapid transportation and the more favored Cuban and Porto Rican plantations, made the development slow. In 1897, about $15,000 worth was imported from the Hawaiian Islands.

Good pineapple land may usually be obtained for $25 to $100 an acre, the higher-priced land being in favored locations at railway stations and near settlements. The cost of clearing and preparing varies from $20 to $80 an acre, according to the cost of labor and the character of the growth on the land.

From 8,000 to 15,000 plants are needed to the acre, varying with the variety and the notion of the planter.

The price of plants in the field varies from $3 the 1,000 for Red Spanish to $350 the 1.000 for the finer varieties. The cost of cultivating and fertilizing an acre for one year varies from about $20 to $150. It requires about eighteen months from the time of setting out to the maturing of the first crop, which yields 50 to 350 crates to the acre. Under favorable circumstances the second crop may be double that of the first. By careful attention the plantation may be continued for eight or ten years without resetting; the second or third crop frequently bears the maximum amount of fruit.

When a common variety is planted, the returns are mainly from the sale of fruit, but with fancy varieties the sale of plants constitutes the main source of returns. Four hundred dollars or more an acre has been realized frequently for a crop of the commonest varieties; in this case increase in plants cannot be considered as of much value. The value of a crop of fancy fruit is about double that of the common, ana $1.000 worth of plants may be sold without detriment to the plantation, if it is a variety that is in demand. From this must be subtracted the cost of transporting to the markets, which varies more or less with the distance the fruit is hauled. This cost varies with the quantity shipped, from $20 to $80 or more an acre.

The pineapple thrives in a variety of soils, but whatever its texture it must not be moist or wet. The pineapple plant will survive air-drying for months, but decays rapidly in a moist atmosphere. The greatest acreage is located upon dry sandy land, formerly overgrown with spruce-pine (Pinus clausa) or a mixture of spruce-pine and hardwood. Chemical analyses of the soil from pineapple fields show an exceedingly small fraction of a per cent of the essential fertilizer ingredients present. A physical analysis shows that the water- content is very low. A considerable acreage is planted on the Florida Keys. Here there is only a small amount of leaf-mold, often not more than an inch on the average, covering a coralline rock. But for the fact that pineapples actually grow and make crops on such soil it would seem entirely incredible.

With conditions of soil as described above, it is imperative to fertilize, and under the existing conditions in the pineapple belt there is no other remedy than the addition of commercial fertilizers, and nothing better. While much is still to be learned about fertilizing this crop, it is fairly well established that for pineapples on spruce-pine land, dried blood, ground bone, and nitrate of soda are good sources of nitrogen; that low-grade sulfate of potash, carbonate of potash and high-grade sulfate of potash are good sources of potash; that acid phosphate should be used in small quantities only or avoided, using pulverized bone instead. A good plan for fertilizing is to drop a small handful of cottonseed meal into the bud immediately after setting out. In October, apply about 600 pounds blood and bone and 400 pounds low-grade sulfate of potash (not kainit) to the acre, or the equivalent of these fertilizers in some of the forms mentioned above. A second application may be made the following February; at this time the amount may be increased 10 to 25 per cent, according to the growth the plants have made. A third application may be made in June or July; and if the plants have grown vigorously a still further increase in amount may be made. A fourth application may be made in October, increasing the amount if the plants have grown vigorously. The succeeding applications may be made at the tune suggested above, and the increasing and decreasing of the amounts may be determined by the progress of the plants. As the average spruce-pine pineapple land is not sufficiently fertile to grow a full crop of pineapples, much more depends upon proper fertilizing than any other one operation.

This plant is propagated by means of crowns, slips, suckers, and rattoons. The crown is the leafy part of the fruit as found in the market. Just below the fruit small plants form, which are left in the field when the fruit is gathered; these are known as slips. In the axils of the leaves buds occur; those that develop near the ground make strong plants in a few months and are known as suckers. (Fig. 2952, after Wester.) A strong plant will mature an "apple" in June and produce two to five suckers by the middle of September. Buds that develop from an underground part and form a rootsystem independent of the parent plant are known as rattoons. Crowns are not planted extensively, as they remain on the fruit when marketed. Good strong suckers are usually employed for planting out. Rattoons are left in the field to replace the plants which have borne a crop, but they are not sufficiently numerous to make a full stand; hence some of the suckers must be left also. Slips require a year longer than suckers to mature a crop. According to Webber, it requires ten to twelve years to mature a plant from seed. Plants are raised from seed only for breeding purposes.

If spruce-pine land is prepared it is cleared of all stumps, wood, roots, and any other organic material, and is plowed deep and leveled off smooth. The fields are then laid off in beds of six or eight rows wide, depending on the variety. The beds should be narrow enough to permit fertilizing and working with a scuffle -hoe without entering the beds, as breaking the leaves is very detrimental. For Red Spanish the rows are made 18 to 20 inches apart; for Queens, 20 to 22 inches; for Porto Ricos, 30 to 36 inches. They are usually placed in checks of about the same distances.

The methods employed on the Keys are quite different. The land is cleared by cutting off the trees, shrubs, and the like, which are allowed to dry and are then burned. The plants are then set out with a grubbing- hoe; they must be set out irregularly, as the rocky soil does not furnish root-hold everywhere. Such fields become exhausted in a few years and have to be abandoned.

Cultivation consists in running over the ground with a scuffle-hoe. When the plantation is set out in beds the handle of the hoe is long enough to permit cultivating to the middle without the laborer entering the bed. Only about an inch of the surface soil is agitated, usually immediately after the fertilfer has been applied. Weeds are not troublesome, excepting in fields that have been cultivated a long time. Under sheds tillage is more frequent and appears to be more necessary. On the Keys no tillage is possible, but tall- growing weeds and such ligneous plants as may spring: up are cut off. In all of the work among pineapple plants the greatest care should be exercised to avoid breaking the leaves, which are very brittle.

The fruit is picked a week before it would mature. It is packed at once into barrel (12 by 20 by 36 inches) and half-barrel (12 by 10 by 36 inches) crates, usually in the latter, the different sizes being packed in separate crates and designated as 18's, 24's, 30's, 36's, 42's, 48's, and 54's, according to the number required for a half- barrel crate. The fruit must be handled without being bruised and packed firmly to prevent its abrasion in transit. To protect the fruit each one is wrapped separately in brown paper.

Since the propagation is accomplished by means of offsets, the varieties are fairly stable and rather definitely marked. The variety most extensively grown is called Red Spanish, Spanish, or Reds. It has a medium-sized apple, and is a hardy plant. Abachi (Abakka), Blood, Queen (Fig. 2953), Sugar Loaf, Enville (Fig. 2954), and White Antigua are varieties that produce medium-sized apples of excellent quality. Black Jamaica, Black Prince, and Prince Albert produce large fruits or apples of excellent quality. Smooth Cayenne and Porto Rico produce large apples of good quality, those of the latter being of greater size. Other varieties are grown more or less extensively, and there are different names for these varieties, but the foregoing have been officially recognized by the Florida State Horticultural Society.

It has been found very advantageous to build a shelter for "pines;" in the winter a shed protects the plants from too great radiation of heat, and in the summer it reduces the intensity of the sun. The original object of the shelter was to protect the plants from frosts and freezes. Pineapple plants freeze at 32°F. This degree of cold does not kill the heart of the plant, but only the larger part of the leaves. Pines under sheds have passed through a temperature of 25° F. without serious injury. The roof of a shed is usually flat, or undulating with the surface of the land. The height varies with the desires of the individual, but is usually about 8 feet above the ground.

In Fig. 2955 the roof is slightly less than 7 feet from the ground. The stringers running crosswise in the figure are 1 1/2" by 3" by 21'; those running lengthwise are 1 1/2" by 1 1/2" by 15'. The material for the roof is cypress plastering lath of usual length and width. The stringers running lengthwise are 46 inches apart. The openings between the lath are just the width of a lath. The amount of lumber needed (to the acre) is about as follows:

424 posts (352 for roof, 72 for sides) 4"x4"x8'. 160 pieces 1 1/2" x 3" x 20'. 960 pieces (840 for roof, 120 for sides) 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 15'. 80,000 lath (75,000 for roof,5,000 for sides) 1/3" x 1" x 4'.

It requires about 9,000 feet of lumber for the above material exclusive of the lath. All lumber must be first- class and free from knots. This can still be reduced by about 2,500 feet by using wire in place of the 1 1/2" by 1 1/2" by 15' and weaving the lath in this. Under the most favorable circumstances such a shed can be erected for $450 an acre, but this is about the ; cheapest and lightest form that will withstand the elements.

The following diseases and insects attack pineapples:

(1) Heart-rot; bitter-heart: The cause of this disease is not known, but it seems to lie more prevalent in a rainy season than in a dry one. It manifests itself by the portion around the heart taking on a water-soaked appearance. This condition progresses outward until the whole apple is involved. It is not necessarily accompanied by rotting, although this usually follows. The whole apple becomes bitter, even before it is entirely involved. When this disease is present in a field, the fruit should be marketed as soon as possible, that the apples may be consumed before becoming badly affected. (2) Sanding: This disorder occurs immediately after setting out, especially if a long dry spell occurs at this time. It is produced by sand being blown into and filling the bud of plants. Immediately after setting out, drop into the bud a small handful of cottonseed-meal, or the same amount of a mixture of one part ground tobacco stems and three or four parts cottonseed-meal. This soon forms a firm plug in the bud, keeping out sand but not interfering with growth. Blood and bone, or blood, bone and tankage, may also be used. (3) Spike; longleaf: This disease manifests itself by the leaves failing to expand at the base, thus giving the plant a contracted appearance. The outer portion of the leaf spreads from the center of the plant, but usually fails to take on a broad flat healthy appearance. Experiments have proved that this disease may be produced by improper use of commercial fertilizers, although the disease has occurred where no fertilizer had been used. Abundant evidence is at hand to show that the disease is not due to an organic agent but rather to untoward condition in the soil. Change the fertilizer, avoiding acid phosphate, kainit, and cottonseed-meal in large quantities, and give protection as by a pineapple shed (spike is a rare thing under sheds). (4) Blight; wilt: This disease occurs in a sporadic manner, usually without any apparent regularity. In some varieties the first intimation of blight is by the outer end of the leaves turning red, and later by the tips wilting. This wilting progresses until the entire plant has dried up. According to Webber the direct cause is a soil- inhabiting fungus which attacks the roots. Remove the wilted plants and set in healthy ones. If the plants are of valuable varieties trim off all diseased roots and much of the stem, together with larger leaves, and reset. It is probable that the fungus will not survive until the roots again penetrate the soil. (5) Red-spider (Stig- maeus floridanus): This species attacks the tender white portion at the base of the leaves. The effect upon the plant is greatly out of proportion to the small amount of injury to the parts attacked. In later stages the leaves rot off at the place attacked. Drop a small handful of tobacco dust into the bud of the plants.

Subsequent rains and dews leach the tobacco and carry the solution down to the red-spiders. If they are not all dead in a week or ten days, repeat the dose. (6) Scale insect (Diaspis bromeliae): This scale insect becomes troublesome in dry localities and in greenhouses. The insect usually attacks the lower surface of the leaf, but each point of attack shows through as a yellow spot or blotch on the upper surface. Spray with resin wash, resin compound, or whale-oil soap. (7) Mealy-bugs (Dactylopius citri and other species): These insects attack the base of the leaves just at or below the ground-level; also the bud, and when fruit matures they multiply in great numbers among the slips and in the eyes of the fruit itself. The remedy is the same as for scale insects, but it is very difficult to make the application effective. When the mealy-bugs are present before the fruit-bud forms, much good can be done by applying a large handful of tobacco dust in the axils of the lvs.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Ananas sativus, Schult. f. Pineapple, which see for field culture Fig. 194. Plant producing a single shaft 2-4 ft. high, and when 12-20 mos. old bearing a head, or pineapple, on the top of which is a rosette of stiff Lvs.: Lvs. tropics. B.M. 1554 (as Bromelia Ananas). B.R. 1081 (as A. bracteata).—There is a common cult. form (var. variegatus or stratifolius), Fig. 195, with striped Lvs. Gn. 51, p. 57. A. Porleanus, Koch, is a form of A. sativus, with olive-green, sharp-spined Lvs. with a yellow central band. A. cochin-chinensis, Hort., is another form (intro. by Pitcher & Manda, 1891).

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Ananas (modified from aboriginal S. Amer. name). Written also Ananassa. Bromeliaceae. Stove herbs, allied to the billbergias, and demanding the same general treatment. As ornamental subjects, grown mostly for the rosette of rigid Lvs. and the strange, often colored head of fleshy fls., which are 6-cleft, with 6 stamens and 1 style. The ripe head is composed of the thickened rachis, in which the fleshy berry is imbedded, and the fleshy persistent bracts; in the pineapple, the fls. are abortive. Prop, by the leafy crown or topknot, by long and sword-shaped, stiff, more or less rough-edged. The same stalk does not bear a second time, but a new shoot may arise from the same root and bear fruit. Better results are usually secured by severing the sucker or crown, and growing a new plant. American strong suckers, or by small offsets from the base: these are treated as cuttings, being rooted in sand with bottom heat, or in the S. set directly in the field. Monogr. by Mez, DC., Monogr. Phaner. 9.

A. bracteatus, Schult. f., is a showy species with red heads, all the bracts being elongated, spiny and prominent. Brazil. B.M. 5025. Regarded by Mez as a form of A. sativus. – A. macrodontes, Morr., like a bromeliad, has large toothed bracts. Brazil.- A. Mordilonus, Hort., a form of A. sativus probably, has variegated spineless lvs.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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