The pineapple is a herbaceous perennial plant that grows 3.3 to 4.9 feet (or 1 to 1.5 meters) tall. It has 30 or more trough-shaped and pointed leaves, which are 1 to 3.3 feet (or 30 to 100 centimeters) long that surround a thick stem. The pineapple is an example of a multiple fruit. A multiple fruit has multiple, helically arranged flowers along the axis and each produce a fleshy fruit that becomes pressed against the fruits of adjacent flowers, which forms what appears to be a single fleshy fruit.
The fruit of a pineapple is arranged in two interlocking helices, eight in one direction and thirteen in the other, each being a Fibonacci number.
The Fibonacci numbers are Nature's numbering system. They appear everywhere in Nature, from the leaf arrangement in plants, to the pattern of the florets of a flower, or the bracts of a pinecone. The Fibonacci numbers are therefore applicable to the growth of every living thing. In mathematics, the Fibonacci numbers are the numbers in the following sequence: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 …
The Smooth Cayenne cultiver has leaves that mostly lack spines except for the leaf tip. The Spanish and Queen have large spines along the leaf margins. Other cultivers are Red Spanish, Hilo, St. Michael, Kona Sugarloaf, Natal Queen, Pernambucco, Charlotte Rothschild and Giant Kew.
The word pineapple in English was first recorded in 1398, when it was used to describe the reproductive organs of conifer trees. When European explorers discovered the tropical fruit they called them pineapples. The term pineapple or pinappel in Middle English didn’t appear in print until 1664. The term pinecone was first recorded in 1694 and was used to replace the original meaning of pineapple.
The scientific name is Ananas comosus. Ananas, the original name for the fruit, comes from the Tupi (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) word for pine nanas as recorded by André Thevenet in 1555. Comosus means tufted and refers to the stem of the fruit.
Many languages use the Tupian term ananas. In Spanish it’s called piña and is used in Spain and most Hispanic American countries. In Argentina it’s ananá.In India it’s Anaasa in Telugu, annachi pazham in Tamil, anarosh in Bengali and kaitha chakka in Malayalam.
The fruit is native to Brazil and Paraguay where wild relatives exist. It was domesticated by the Indians and carried by up through South and Central American to Mexico and the West Indies. Caribbean Indians placed pineapples or the crowns outside the entrances to their dwellings as symbols of hospitality and friendship.
Christopher Columbus is given credit for the discovering the pineapple on the island of Guadalupe in 1493, but the fruit had been long grown in South America. He called it piña de Indes, which means “pine of the Indians”. The South American Guarani Indians had cultivated the fruit for food and called it nana , which means “excellent fruit”. Columbus again saw the fruit in 1502 in Panama.
Magellan is credited with discovering pineapples in Brazil in 1519. By 1555, pineapples were being exported with much popularity to England. It’s popularity soon spread to India, Asia and the West Indies. Spaniards introduced it to the Philippines.
In 1751,George Washington tasted pineapple in Barbados and stated emphatically that it was his favorite tropical fruit. At that time the fruit thrived in Florida but it was a rarity for most Americans.
Later around 1770, Captain James Cook introduced it to Hawaii, although some sources say it was introduced to Hawaii in 1813.Commercial cultivation started there in the 1880s when steamships made transporting the perishable fruit possible. The first sizable plantation of 5 acres was established in Oahu in 1885. Portuguese traders are said to have taken seeds to India in 1548. They also introduced it to the east and west coasts of Africa. It was growing in South Africa in 1655 and China in 1594. It reached Europe in 1650 and was being produced in Holland in 1686 but wasn’t successful in England until 1712. In the late 1700s, greenhouse culture flourished in England and France.
Exporting of canned pineapple started in 1892. In 1903, James Drummond Dole began canning pineapple, which made it accessible worldwide. When a new machine automated the skinning and coring of the fruit production increased dramatically. In 1921 pineapple was the largest crop and industry in Hawaii, because of the Dole Hawaiian Pineapple Company.
Del Monte started growing pineapple in 1917. Maui Pineapple Company began on the island of Maui in 1909. In 2006, Del Monte withdrew its pineapple cultivation, which left only Dole and Maui Pineapple companies in Hawaii.
Today Hawaii only produces ten percent of the world’s pineapple crop. Other pineapple producing countries include Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Thailand, and China.
Pineapple contains a proteolytic enzyme called
, which breaks down protein. Because of this pineapple juice can be used as a marinade and tenderizer for meat. The enzymes in raw pineapples can interfere with the preparation of foods such as jelly or gelatin-based desserts. Because the bromelain breaks down in cooking or in the canning process, canned pineapples can be used.
Individuals suffering from protein deficiencies or disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome shouldn’t consume raw pineapple. Neither should hemophiliacs or persons with kidney or liver diseases, because it can increase the time taken to coagulate the blood as proteolytic enzymes are natural blood thinners. Theoretically people who take blood thinners such as Coumadin should also be cautious about consuming too much raw pineapple.
When unripe, the pineapple is not only inedible but it’s also poisonous, causing irritation to the throat and acting as a drastic purgative. Excessive consumption of pineapple cores have caused the formation of fiber balls called bezoars in the digestive tract.
Women who want to get pregnant should not eat raw pineapple. In some parts of the world, the flesh of very young fruits is deliberately ingested to cause abortion. They take a little with honey on three successive mornings.
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