Pineapple

Ananus comosus (Bromeliaceae)

Characteristics

Small, herbaceous, perennial shrub, up to 1.5 m tall. Short, stocky stem with tough, waxy leaves. Unpollinated flowers (up to 200) fuse to form a multiple fruit. The fruit of a pineapple is usually arranged in two interlocking helices. Typically, there are 8 helices in one direction and 13 in the other, each being a Fibonacci number. The plant is normally propagated from the offset produced at the top of the fruit or from side shoots, and typically mature within a year. The pineapple carries out CAM photosynthesis.

Distribution

Native to South America. Introduction to Europe in the 17th century as an icon of luxury. Since 1820s, pineapple has been commercially grown in greenhouses and many tropical plantations. It is the third most important tropical fruit in world production.

Natural Medical Properties

Pineapple fruits contain bromelain, a protein-splitting enzyme that aids digestion.
The sour, unripe fruit improves digestion, increases appetite and relieves dyspepsia.
In Indian herbal medicine it is also thought to act as a uterine tonic.
It is used as a treatment to ease sore throats.
It is eaten in some areas, either on its own or cooked with Citrus aurantiifolia) to procure an abortion.
The ripe fruit cools and soothes – it is used to settle wind and reduce excessive gastric acid.
Its significant fibre content makes it a useful laxative for relieving constipation.
The juice of the ripe fruit is both diuretic and a digestive tonic.
The leaves are anthelmintic and purgative.
They considered useful in encouraging the onset of menstruation and easing painful periods.
The leaves are used to treat fractures
The juice of the plant is applied to burns, itches and boils.

Did you know?

In the wild, pineapples are pollinated primarily by hummingbirds. Certain wild pineapples are foraged and pollinated at night by bats. Under intensive cultivation, because seed development diminishes fruit quality, pollination is performed by hand and seeds are retained only for breeding.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species