For all practical purposes, I have become something of a banana/pineapple/papaya farmer. I have planted so many of these around our property – I am not sure what I am going to do with their crops. With respect to pineapples, I have planted two varieties – a sweet golden variety and a red variety.
There is some knowledge one has about plants that could only come from actually cultivating them. I remember being shocked to see how asparagus grow – first as lush ferns, and then the asparagus start poking out of the ground beneath the ferns. Once I started gardening, the produce sections of grocery stores started to seem like miracles. Botany is so crazy.
Now I have two red pineapples coming up, and I was similarly shocked to see that all of the spikes on pineapple fruit are the legacy of individual flowers. Check this out!
Pineapples are a type of bromeliad. Bromeliads are a diverse collection of spikey plants that even includes Spanish moss. They start off as a small shrub and then the individual flowers of the unpollinated plant fuse to form a “multiple fruit.” Basically a pineapple is a bunch of miniature fruits that have fused together into one entity, which is what gets harvested and sold in the grocery store.
Pineapples are native to South America, where their primary pollinators are hummingbirds and bats. They were introduced to Europe in the 17th century and became a symbol of luxury. (In the Deep South, pineapples are a symbol of Southern hospitality. If you are Southerner, it is important to share your most luxurious possessions with guests. This is why you see pineapples worked into a lot of Southern clothing brands and interior design.)