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Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.


Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Toxicity
  5. Description
  6. Germplasm
  7. Distribution
  8. Ecology
  9. Cultivation
  10. Harvesting
  11. Yields and Economics
  12. Energy
  13. Biotic Factors
  14. References


Pineapple is cultivated for fruit, used fresh, canned, frozen, or made into juices, syrups, or candied. Pineapple bran, the residue after juicing, is high in vitamin A, and is used in livestock feed. From the juice may be extracted citric acid, or on fermentation, alcohol. In the Philippines, a fine quality cloth is made from leaf fibers. Commercial bromelain is generally prepared from pineapple wastes. A mixture of several proteases, bromelain is used in meat tenderizers, in chill-proofing beer, manufacturing precooked cereals, in certain cosmetics, and in preparations to treat edema and inflammation. Bromelain is nematicidal (Duke, 1984b).

Folk Medicine

According to Hartwell (1967–1971), the fruit, peel, or juice is used in folk remedies for corns, tumors, and warts. Reported to be abortifacient, cholagogue, depurative, diaphoretic, digestive, discutient, diuretic, ecbolic, emmenagogue, estrogenic, hydragogue, intoxicant, laxative, parasiticide, purgative, refrigerant, styptic, and vermifuge, pineapple is a folk remedy for bladder ailments, hypochondria, scarlet fever, scurvy, sores, and sprains. An antiedemic substance has been reported from the rhizome. Many real or imagined pharmacological effects are attributed to bromelain: burn debridement, antiinflammatory action, smooth muscle relaxation, stimulation of muscle contractions, cancer prevention and remission (not recognized by NCI), ulcer prevention, appetite inhibition, enhanced fat excretion, sinusitis relief. According to Morton, bromelain is given as an antiinflammatory agent following dental, gynecological, and general surgery, and to treat abscesses, contusions, hematomas, sprains, and ulcerations.

Pineapple juice from unripe fruits acts as a violent purgative, and is also anthelmintic and ecbolic. Ripe fruit juice is diuretic, but in large doses may cause uterine contractions. Sweetened leaf decoction drunk for venereal diseases. Juice of the leaves consumed for hiccoughs, vermifuge, and as purgative. Juice of ripe fruit regarded also as antiscorbutic, cholagogic, diaphoretic, refrigerant, and useful in jaundice. Young vegetative buds are used for respiratory ailments among Choco children (Duke, 1984b).


Per 100 g, the fruit is reported to contain 47–52 calories, 85.3–87.0 g H2O, 0.4–0.7 g protein, 0.2–0.3 g fat, 11.6–13.7 g total carbohydrate, 0.4–0.5 g fiber, 0.3–0.4 g ash, 17–18 mg Ca, 8–12 mg P, 0.5 mg Fe, 1–2 mg Na, 125–146 mg K, 32–42 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.06–0.08 mg thiamine, 0.03– 0.04 mg riboflavin, 0.2–0.3 mg niacin, and 17–61(-96) mg ascorbic acid. Cultivars may contain 1–5% citronic acid (wild forms up to 8.6%), ca 3.5% invert sugars, 7.5% saccharose, approaching 15% at maturity. Also reported are vanillin, methyln-propyl ketone, n-valerianic acid, isocapronic acid, acrylic acid, L(-)-malic acid, b-methylthiopropionic acid methyl ester (and ethyl ester), 5-hydroxytryptamine, quinic acid-1,4-di-p-coumarin (my translation from List and Horhammer, 1969–1979). The aromatics from the essential oils of the fruit include methanol, ethanol, n-propanol, isobutanol, n-pentanol, ethyl acetate, ethyl-n-butyrate, methylisovalerianate, methyl-n-capronate, methyl-n-caprylate, n-amyl-n-capronate, ethyl lactate, methyl-b-methylthiolpropionate, ethyl-b-methylthiolpropionate, and diacetyl, acetone, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, furfurol, and 5-hydroxy-2-methylfurfurol. Steriod fractions of the lower leaves possess estrogenic activity.


Workers who cut up pineapples have their fingerprints almost completely obliterated by pressure and the keratolytic effect of bromelain (calcium oxalate crystals and citric acid were excluded as the cause). The recurved hooks on the left margins can painfully injure one. Mitchell and Rook (1979) also restated earlier work on "pineapple estate pyosis" occurring in workers who gather the fruits, probably an acarus infestation with secondary bacterial infection. Angular stomatitis can result from eating the fruit. Ethyl acrylate, found in the fruits, produced sensitisation in 10 of 24 subjects "by a maximisation test." Ethyl acrylate is used in creams, detergents, food, lotions, perfumes, and soaps. In "therapeutic doses", bromelain may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, and menorrhagia. Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk (1969–1979) restate a report, unavailable to me, of unusual toxic symptoms following ingestion of the fruit, heart failure with cyanosis and ecchymoses, followed by collapse and coma and sometimes death (Duke, 1984b).


Perennial, herbaceous, sometimes spinescent succulent, up to 1 m tall; leaves long, sword-like, arranged in a tight spiral around a short stem, edges very sharply dentate to nearly entire, often variegated, or red or brown streaked; flowers purplish-blue, trimerous, progressive toward apex of stem, with oldest flowers at base of inflorescence; fruit a composite of 100–200 seedless fruits fused into a tight, compact unit, developing along axis of stem, oval to cylindrical, yellowish to orange, often greenish; fruit development requiring about 20 days (Reed, 1976).


Reported from the South American Center of Diversity, pineapple, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate aluminum, drought, insects, laterite, low pH, peat, slope, and virus (Duke, 1978). Some selection and improvements had been done by the Indians in pre-Columbian times. All members of A. comosus are cultigens with no wild ancestral forms. Triploid varieties are reported from Brazil, Ecuador, and the West Indies. Numerous tetraploid are known with larger fruits and longer maturing periods. New varieties are currently being selected, one of importance is resistant to mealybug wilt incorporated into the Cayenne variety. Varieties of A. comosus are self-incompatible, hence seedless when self-pollinated. Seeds may be produced by artificial cross-pollination. In its native areas, hummingbirds effect natural cross-pollination. Hundreds of cvs have been developed, some of the presently important cvs are,
'Cayenne or Smooth Cayenne'—fruits 1350–2500 g, cylindrical, flesh yellow, high acid and sugar content, has largest acreage in cultivation, 90% of world's canned fruit comes from this variety. Grown primarily in Hawaii, Australia, Philippines, and South Africa.
'Red Spanish'—fruits 1350–2250 g, squarish, flesh pale yellow, fibrous, aromatic, acid flavor, used for fresh and candied fruit industry. Grown in Florida, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba; a good shipper.
'Queen or Table Queen'—900–1350 g, flesh rich yellow, mild flavor, crisp, low acid, popular as fresh fruit. Grown in South Africa.
'Pernambuco'—1350–1800 g, cylindrical, flesh yellow-white, tender, juicy, mild, sweet flavor, popular as fresh fruit. Grown in northern Brazil.
'Monte Lirio'—Grown in Mexico and Central America for its fresh fruit.
'Sugarloaf'—Fruit conical to globular, flesh yellow-white, rich, sweet flavor, eaten fresh. Grown in Mexico and Cuba.
'Cabazoni' (Cabezona)—2250–4500 g, flesh yellow-white, fairly good flavor. Grown in Puerto Rico.
Other varieties of local importance are: 'Abachi' (Abakka or Abacaxi), 'Monte Lirio', 'Singapore Spanish', and 'Vermelho'. Cultivars with smooth-edged leaves are desirable and frequently planted to make harvesting easier. x = 25; 2n = 50 (Reed, 1976).


Native to the American Tropics, the cultivated pineapples are grown mainly between latitudes 24°N and 25°S, principally at lower altitudes, in many countries where climatic conditions are favorable (Reed, 1976).


Ranging from Warm Temperate Moist (without frost) to Tropical Very Dry to Wet Forest Life Zones, pineapple is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 6.0 to 41.0 dm (mean of 34 cases = 19.3), annual temperature of 16.2 to 27.4°C (mean of 34 cases = 23.7), and pH of 3.5 to 8.0 (mean of 29 cases = 6.0) (Duke, 1978, 1979). Pineapples thrive in climates that are uniformly warm. Leaf damage occurs at -2.2°C, and plants are killed at lower temperatures. Prolonged exposure at 5°C results in internal breakdown. Pineapples may be grown under a wide range of rainfall conditions, from 60 cm to 254 cm, with 100–150 cm being ideal. They are tolerant of a wide range of soils providing they possess good drainage, soil aeration, and a low percentage of lime. Sandy loam, mildly acid and of medium fertility, is best (Reed, 1976).


For a pineapple plantation, soil should be thoroughly prepared, fertilized, fumigated, and paper laid down. Propagation is vegetative by slips from stalk under fruit, suckers from axils of leaves (these produce fruit more quickly), crowns, the rosettes at apex of fruit, or ratoons, the growth from underground stems. Remove the vegetative unit, allow to dry 1 or more weeks, and plant through hole in paper. Plants are spaced 25–45 cm apart in 0.6 m rows. Use of tar-paper or black plastic strips helps to eliminate weeds, conserve moisture, increase soil temperature and build up high nitrate in soil. Fertilization is normally practiced, amounts depending on natural soil fertility. Application of iron is necessary in areas of low pH (5.6–7). Since pineapples flower erratically, forcing of flowers is a common practice. This is done chemically by use of a plant hormone which induces flowering and subsequent fruiting. A drop in temperature of about 10° during the winter months probably initiates flowering (Reed, 1976).


First harvest occurs in 12–22 months after planting. Production is continuous in the tropics. In subtropics, harvest is usually during the summer months. Plants bear for 3–5 years after which they should be replanted. Fruit is picked ripened for best natural sugars; greener for shipping. Most pineapple is canned, with only 8% being consumed fresh.

Yields and Economics

An average diploid pineapple weighs 2.25 kg. First year's harvest is greatest, about 72 MT/ha, with yields less in succeeding years. Larger cultivars yield more per hectare, depending on the variety. World production at the present time is about 4 billion kg/yr. Largest producers are Hawaii, Malaysia, Brazil, Ghana, Mexico, Philippines, in that order. Lesser amounts are produced by Taiwan, Republic of South Africa, and Puerto Rico. Hawaii produces about 90% of the world's canned pineapple. The major importers are United States (about 36.1 million kg/yr), Argentina, West Germany, United Kingdom, and Canada. Main exporters of fresh pineapples are Mexico (about 44% of world's market), Brazil, Cuba, and Republic of South Africa (Reed, 1976).


According to Gopalakrishnan and Kasturi (1980), "The production of energy from biomass appears to be a better proposition, at least in the short term, than the production of energy from geothermal, solar, wind, and similar sources."

The pineapple industry has the potential to meet about 4% of Hawaii's energy needs by supplying in excess of 138,000 MWh to the State's Utility Grid, over and above its own use. Maui County, currently obtaining 30% of its needs from bagasse, is likely to obtain another 40% of its energy from stack burning of pineapple trash. Capital requirements for trash use are minor compared with those of other energy sources, and the environmental impact is insignificant. If such is true in one of the United States, clearly it should not be written off as an energy resource in developing countries. Kohls (ca 1981) discusses the potential of making medicinal alcohol from pineapple wastes in the Ivory Coast, which imports 220,000 liters per year. Banana production around d'Agboville is around 15,000 MT, of which 12,600 MT are exported, the remainder (largely wasted) capable of yielding at least 40,000 liters medicinal alcohol. Stewart et al (1979) estimate that pineapple would yield 71 liters alcohol per ton at a raw material cost per liter of $1.76 compared to closer to $0.20 per liter for cereal-derived alcohol and $0.15 to $0.20 per liter for gasoline. Conversely, Marzola and Bartholomew (1979) "show ... that recoverable alcohol from achievable commercial yields of pineapple can actually equal that of sugarcane, with the pineapple crop requiring only a fraction of the water used by sugarcane." But pineapple production in Hawaii requires monthly inputs of 14.5 MCal/ha for manual labor, 49.0 for machines, 542.6 for fuel, 338.9 for fertilizers, and 18.9 for pesticides. Such pineapple, at age 654 days, produced 790 kg/ha/mo sugar, while year old ratoons produced 1,150 kg sugar and 280 kg starch, comparing favorable with sugarcane monthly sugar production. The pineapple slightly exceeded the sugarcane, which in turn exceeded cassava. Marzola and Bartholomew (1979) concluded that the pineapple would yield 964 liters alcohol/ha/mo, cf 921 for sugarcane, and 611 for cassava. Air dried pineapple plant residues are estimated to contain 3300 kcal/kg.

Biotic Factors

Many fungi attack the pineapple plant in different regions, Aspergillus niger, Asterinella stuhlmanni, Beltrania indica, Botryodiploidia ananassae, B. theobromae, Calothyriella ananassae, Ceratocystis paradoxs, Ceratostomella paradoxa, Colletotrichum capsici, Corynespora cassiicola, Curvularia lunata, C. maculans, Cyclodomus comosi, Dictyoarthrinium quadratum, Fusarium moniliforme, and var. subglutinans, F. oxysporum, F. scirpi, F. solani, Gliomastix luzulae, Hendersonula toruloides, Macrophomina phaseoli, Marasmius palmivorus, M. sacchari, Nigrospora sphaerica, Paecilomyces elegans, Peltaster intermedium, Penicillium funiculosum, P. vermiculatum, Periconia minutissima, Pestalotia ananas, Phyllosticta ananassae, Phytophthora cinnamomi, P. parasitica, P. palmivora, Pithomyces sacchari, Podoconium bakeri, Pythium arrhenomanes, P. butleri, P. debaryanum, P. indigoferae, P. spinosum, Spegazzinia tessarthra, Sporedesmium bakeri var. sacchari, Sporodum atropurpureum, Stachybotrys parvispora, Stachylidium bicolor, Stibella proliferans, Syncephalostratum racemosum, Thielaviopsis paradoxs (white spot, soft rot, base rot), Tricobotrys pannosa, Walbrothielia bromeliae, Zygosporium oscheoides, Hymenula affinis, Rhizopus stolonifer, Rhizidiocystis ananasi, Trichoderma viride, and various wild yeasts. Pineapples are attacked by a great variety of nematodes in different countries, many of the specific records are from Nigeria, Thailand, Philippines, Malagasy, Taiwan, and Bangladesh: Aphelenchoides sp. , Criconema octangulare, Criconemella ferniae, C. ornata, C. onoense, C. peruensis, C. rusticum, Ditylenchus destructor, Dorylaimus pacificus, Heliocotylenchus africanus, H. dihystera, H. multicinctus, H. concavus, H. erythrinae, H. cavenessi, H. pseudorobustus, H. pannus, Hemicriconemoides cocophilus, H. squamosus, Hemicycliophora oostenbrinkii, Heterodera schachtii, Hoplolaimus pararobustus, H. seinhorsti, Isolaimium stictachroum, Longidorus laevicapitatus, Macrolaimus natator, Meloidogyne acronea, M. arenaria, M. hapla, M. incognita, M. incognita acrita, M. javanica, M. sp., Mesotylus taomasinae, Nothocriconemella mutabilis, Paratylenchus minutus, Pratylenchus brachyurus, P. coffeae, P. goodeyi, P. penetrans, P. pratensis, P. scribneri, P. thorner, P. zeae, Radopholus similes, Rotylenchus brevis, Rotylenchulus reniformus, Scutellonema bradys, S. unum, Trichodorus porosus, Trilineelus triglyphus, Tylenchortiynchus acti, T. annulatus, T. brevidens, T. claytoni, T. nudus, T. parvus, Xiphinema americana, X. chambersi, X. ensiculiferum, X. insigne, and X. sp. Thecia sp. larvae attack fruits. Tobacco thrips (Frankliniella insularis and fusca) and Onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) carry the virus of Spotted Wilt and Yellow Spot; larvae must feed on diseased plants in nymphal stage. White grubs are a problem in Puerto Rico, controlled by andrin. Pineapple scale (Diaspis bromeliae) may be a problem in some areas. Mealybug (Dysmicoccus brevipes) caused mealybug wilt, the most serious disease of pineapple; but is ant attended, so using dieldrin to kill the ants helps control the mealybug. All crowns, suckers and the like could be treated with malathion or diazinon and let dry before planting (Reed, 1976).


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Last update December 22, 1997