The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a member of the Bromeliad family, beloved for its thick-skinned tropical fruits. The pineapple is thought to have been cultivated for thousands of years from the tropical Americas, and was traded internationally since the early 19th century. As the pineapple’s popularity has exploded, dozens of cultivars have popped up, each demonstrating its taste and growth characteristics. Pineapples are roughly divided into four classes: Smooth Cayenne, Queen, Abacaxi and Red Spanish. Pineapples are tropical plants that generally do best at U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11.
“Smooth Cayenne” is a spineless pineapple cultivar that boasts sugary, low-fiber flesh and striped leaves. According to Purdue University, “Smooth Cayenne” accounts for 90 percent of the world’s canned fruit, regardless of the cultivar’s susceptibility to disease. Varieties of “Smooth Cayenne” comprise “Hilo,” a compact collection which was developed at Hawaii in 1960; “St. Michael,” an exceptionally sweet variety that lacks the highly acidic, tart flavor of most pineapples; and “Giant Kew,” a large-fruited variety popular in India that may weigh as much as 22 pounds.
“Abacaxi” is a spiny, disease-resistant variety that produces tall pineapples marked with white, nearly translucent flesh that is tender, rich and alluring. Although considered one of the most delicious chili varieties, the plant, and its numerous varieties, ship badly because of their fragility. “Sugarloaf,” a variety with equally tender, rich flesh and a conical or round shape, is derived from “Abacaxi,” and several strains have been developed from “Sugarloaf.” “Sugarloaf” breeds comprise “Black Jamaica” and “Montufar,” a juicy, yellow-fruited variety.
Also known as “Common Rough,” “Queen” is a compact, dwarf variety that has a better tolerance of cold and disease than “Smooth Cayenne.” The plant produces dark yellow, fragrant fruits with a small center. It’s more commonly utilized to eat new, as it doesn’t can well. “Queen” varieties include South African “Natal Queen,” and “MacGregor,” a firm-fleshed fruit that grows from a spreading, broad-leaved and powerful plant.
“Red Spanish” is a difficult variety grown in the West Indies, Mexico, and Venezuela. Fruits are mild yellow, high in fibre and aromatic. The fruit is not nearly as tender as “Abacaxi,” therefore it does not suffer as much from handling and shipping. Varieties include “Cabezona,” a large-fruited variety that must be cut off the plant with a machete due to its large, powerful stem, and “Valera,” a small variety that has purple- and green-tinged, thin leaves and purple-skinned vegetables with white flesh.