Ananas sativus Schult. Bromeliaceae. Pineapple.
Tropical America. In 1493, the companions of Columbus, at Guadeloupe island, first saw the pineapple, the flavor and fragrance of which astonished and delighted them, as Peter Martyr records. The first accurate illustration and description appear to have been given by Oviedo in 1535. Las Casas, who reached the New World in 1502, mentions the finding by Columbus at Porto Bello of the delicious pineapple. Oviedo, who went to America in 1513, mentions in his book three kinds as being then known. Benzoni, whose History of the New World was published in 1568 and who resided in Mexico from 1541 to 1555, says that no fruit on God's earth could be more agreeable, and Andre Thevet, a monk, says that in his time, 1555-6, the nanas was often preserved in sugar. De Soto, 1557, speaks of "great pineapples of a very good smell and exceeding good taste" in the Antilles. Jean de Lery, 1578, describes it in his Voyage to Brazil as being of such excellence that the gods might luxuriate upon it and that it should only be gathered by the hand of a Venus. Acosta, 1578, also describes this fruit as of "an excellent smell, and is very pleasant and delightful in taste, it is full of juice, and of a sweet and sharp taste." He calls the plant ananas. Raleigh, 1595, speaks of the "great abundance of pinas, the princesse of fruits, that grow under the Sun, especially those of Guiana."
Acosta states that the ananas was carried from Santa Cruz in Brazil to the West Indies, and thence to the East Indies and China, but he does not pretend by this that pineapples were not to be found out of Brazil, for he describes an idol in Mexico, Vitzili-putzli, as having "in his left hand a white target with the figures of five pineapples, made of white feathers, set in a crosse." Stephens, at Tuloom, on the coast of Yucatan, found what seemed intended to represent a pineapple among the stucco ornaments of a ruin. We do not know what to make of Wilkinson's n statement of one instance of the pineapple in glazed pottery being among the remains from ancient Egypt. It has probably been cultivated in tropical America from time immemorial, as it now rarely bears seeds. Humboldt mentions pineapples often containing seeds as growing wild in the forests of the Orinoco, at Esmeralda; and Schomburgk found the wild fruit, bearing seeds, in considerable quantity throughout Guiana. Piso also mentions a pineapple having many seeds growing wild in Brazil. Titford says this delicious fruit is well known and very common in Jamaica, where there are several sorts. Unger says, in 1592 it was carried to Bengal and probably from Peru by way of the Pacific Ocean to China. Ainslie says that it was introduced in the reign of the Emperor Akbar by the Portuguese who brought the seed from Malacca; that it was naturalized in Java as early as 1599 and was taken thence to Europe. In 1594, it was cultivated in China, brought thither perhaps from America by way of the Philippines. An anonymous writer states that it was quite common in India in 1549 and this is in accord with Acosta's statement.
The pineapple is now grown in abundance about Calcutta, and Firminger describes ten varieties. It is now a common plant in Celebes and the Philippine Islands. The Jesuit, Boymins, mentions it in his Flora Sinensis of 1636. A white kind in the East Indies, says Unger, which has run wild, still contains seed in its fruit. In 1777, Captain Cook planted pineapples in various of the Pacific Isles, as at Tongatabu, Friendly Islands, and Society Islands. Afzelius says pineapples grow wild in Sierra Leone and are cultivated by the natives. Don states that they are so abundant in the woods as to obstruct passage and that they bear fruit abundantly. In Angola, wild pines are mentioned by Montiero, and the pineapple is noticed in East Africa by Krapf. R. Brown speaks of the pineapples as existing upon the west coast of Africa but he admits its American origin. In Italy, the first attempts at growing pineapples were made in 1616 but failed. At Leyden, a Dutch gardener was successful in growing them in 1686. The fruit, as imported, was known in England in the time of Cromwell and is again noticed in 1661 and in 1688 from Barbados. The first plants introduced into England came from Holland in 1690, but the first success at culture dates from 1712.
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.