The WALA Plant Library

Synonyms for Pineapple: None known
Scientific Name: Ananas comosus (L.) Merr., Ananas sativus L.
Family: Bromeliaceae (Pineapple Family)


Pineapple: to us this usually means the aromatic, pine-cone shaped fruit with a crown of stiff prickly leaves and sweet-tasting flesh. But what does the plant look like? The tropical, perennial pineapple is a member of the family Bromeliaceae. The bush-like plant grows to a height of about one metre. The toothed - and therefore rather inhospitable - leaves grow directly from the ground in the form of a rosette and can be as much as a metre long. A bit like a maxi-version of the crown of leaves that tops the pineapple fruit. When the plant is one year old an inflorescence grows from the centre of the rosette for the first time, the thick stem about 30 cm long bearing closely packed white or blue to purple flowers. Without pollination the flowers develop into seedless berries which fuse with the stem of the inflorescence to form the fleshy pineapple fruit. Each scale on the fruit's skin indicates a flower, the last remains of which we find when we peel the fruit. These are the hardened structures a few millimetres in size which lie in the fruit flesh immediately beneath the skin. The woody circular core of the fruit, on the other hand, is the stem of the inflorescence.
Like all bromeliads the pineapple plant obtains its nutrition from the leaves with the help of special moisture-absorbing scales (trichomes) which take up water and nutrients. The interior of the leaf rosette acts as a natural water reservoir. In some bromeliad species this mini-pond has developed into a small biotope with its own animal species, insects and even frogs. The roots serve mainly to anchor the plant in the ground.