Types of Pineapples

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You can find both ornamental-type pineapples (Ananas comosus) and edible varieties for the home garden. Pineapples, which grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11, all belong to the same species and share the same scientific name. Regardless of type, pineapples have striking 18- to 36-inch-long sword-shaped leaves that grow in a rosette pattern. The flower fruit grows out of the center of the leaves. Two types that work exceptionally well in the landscape are the spineless 'Smooth Cayenne' (Ananas comosus 'Smooth Cayenne') and the variegated ornamental 'Variegatus' (Ananas comosus 'Variegatus').

Tip

  • Ornamental types have striking foliage, typically with two colors. The fruits, when edible, tend to be bland and tasteless. Pineapples that produce exceptional fruit also bring an ornamental element to the landscape, but they tend to lack the interesting patterns and variations that ornamental types have.

'Smooth Cayenne' Type

Equally valued as an ornamental variety and an important fruit crop, the pineapple type 'Smooth Cayenne' is mostly spineless, with sweet, edible fruit. The fruit industry values it for its shape -- the fruit goes in a can nicely without a lot of waste -- while gardeners and landscapers appreciate the spineless, variegated leaves. 'Smooth Cayenne' grows 1 to 3 feet tall with a 3- to 5-foot spread. The green leaves are edged with yellow running the length of the leaf blade. You can find this pineapple type under the common name spineless pineapple.

Tip

  • Grow pineapples in a protected south-facing spot in the garden to maximize their exposure to heat and warmth.

Ornamental 'Variegatus'

An ornamental that's hard to beat for drama in the landscape, the pineapple type 'Variegatus' has striking 36-inch-long green leaves edged in pale green. 'Variegatus' really comes into its own when its red flower starts to bloom. This cultivar grows in USDA zones 10 to 11. The fruit, while edible, doesn't have the flavor or sweetness for it to be grown as a fruit crop.

Commercial Classifications

The fruit industry recognizes four main types of pineapple. They are 'Smooth Cayenne', which is also grown in gardens, 'Red Spanish' (Ananas comosus 'Red Spanish'), 'Queen' (Ananas comosus 'Queen') and 'Abacaxi' (_Ananas comosus '_Abacaxi'). Each type has multiple variations.

Tip

  • In addition to the four main types, growers and plant breeders have developed variations of many successful varieties, focusing on things like disease resistance, climate adaptation in certain climates and fruit size.

  • 'Smooth Cayenne' is important to the fruit industry throughout the world. This type is used for commercial pineapple canning. Variants include 'Hilo' (Ananas comosus 'Hilo'), developed in Hawaii. 
  • 'Red Spanish' makes up most of the fruit crop in Puerto Rico. Variations include 'Perolera' (Ananas comosus 'Perolera') and 'Cabezona' (Ananas comosus 'Cabezona'). 
  • Pineapples belonging to the 'Queen' type are grown commercially in South Africa and Australia. This type is also grown in the Philippines, and has fragrant, juicy fruit. 
  • 'Abacaxi' type pineapples are grown in Florida, the Bahamas and parts of Brazil. The fruit from this pineapple type is sweet and tender with a nearly white color.  

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