Pineapple: A Citrus Fruit?

Pineapple - a spiky Bromeliad

For over a decade my dearest friend Tim and I have continued an on-going debate about the proper categorization of Pineapple. The primary question being, “Is Pineapple a citrus fruit?” In my view the answer to this question is a resounding, “No.” But my little Timmy thinks differently. Over the years, we’ve brought this topic up numerous times with friends and family. You would be shocked at the split in opinions and the debate it causes.

To set the record straight here are few reasons why Pineapple is, in fact, not a Citrus fruit. You can see Tim’s official rebuttal on his blog here.

To begin with a horticultural perspective, Pineapple plants are in the Bromeliad family, a variety of short perennials known for their long pointy leaves of various colored singular center blooming flowers. The fruit is created by the fusing together of numerous small berries, and the fruit won’t ripen much after being picked. Citrus, however, is in the Rutaceae family, an evergreen leafy and multi-flowered shrub or tree. A Citrus fruit is comprised of a singular, specialized berry, not a combination of multiple berries, and will ripen after it is picked from the tree.

Further, pineapple is propagated through slips and suckers that grow from the crown of a pineapple. Pineapple does not produce seeds. Citrus fruit does produce seeds (as we all know from our oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruits) and relies on seeds for propagation and reproduction. No seeds, no citrus fruit.

Orange - a leafy Rutaceae

A further interesting fact about Pineapple is the presence of diamonds on the surface of its skin that form two interlocking spirals. Eight diamonds go in one direction, thirteen diamonds in the other – both of which are Fibonacci numbers. Fibonacci numbers are related to the Golden Ratio and are a sequence of integers where numbers in pairs continually add up to the next highest number in a continuously linear fashion. It is a special perfection of nature. No such mathematical majesty is reflected in citrus fruits.

With Pineapple, one perfect fruit per plant is produced. Oranges, on the other hand, will produce a boundless amount of fruit limited only by the size of the tree. Pineapple grows from the single, central flower of the Bromeliad while Oranges are produced in number from numerous white blossoms. Pineapple grows best in very wet, warm, tropical climates – i.e. Brazil and Hawaii. But the best environments for citrus fruit are dry and hot with a short rainy season- i.e. Florida, California, Arizona.

In particular, please note that the citrus fruits contain rind, white pith, and citrus flesh- unlike a pineapple. From a cooking perspective, you cannot zest a pineapple due to its structure, while you can zest all Citrus fruit.

To be fair, I can understand why there might be confusion. Pineapple is a Tropical fruit, and Citrus is a subcategory of Tropical fruit. But Pineapple is always categorized separately from the Citrus family. Tropical defines a climate, while Citrus is an actual genus of plant species. Pineapple is in the Ananas genus, and is the best known plant of the group.

I feel that pretty much wraps up the debate, but what are your thoughts? Pineapple, Citrus or not?

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15 Comments

  1. Tim says:

    Jes, my most fabulous friend, I am so impressed beyond words!!!!

    I admit that I did not see this coming. While our debate has waged for over a decade now I had no idea that you had amassed so much information for your side of this argument. I congratulate you on your hard work and dedication in this matter.

    Of course, I still disagree with you-but on the friendliest of terms possible.

    My rebuttal can be found at http://tsarskoe.blogspot.com/2011/08/rebuttal-pineapple-is-citrus-fruit.html I would have posted it here but I am unable to included illustrations here which prove my points with certainitude (Yes, that is a new word).

    I readily admit that I hope this debate shall continue despite the fact that we both know we are right.

    p.s. Raisins are great, but YOU are way, way, way better!!!!

    • Jes says:

      LOL!!! Dueling blogs!!!!
      Fantastic post on your site Tim, I particularly love the illustrations.
      The evidence you’ve collected is quite convincing.
      I have to admit I visited the home of Carolus Linnaeus in Sweden and he is freakin’ brilliant!!!! What a genius!

  2. Jen Hayden says:

    Why must I be torn b/t two wonderfully worded arguments…alas I will set on the sidelines like a hum drum fruit (maybe a topic for the next debate…which fruit is the most boring…LOL) and watch the fireworks commence…but I do believe this is MUCH more exciting watching the debate in person :)

  3. Lancelot says:

    Be it that pineapple is not in the traditional citrus family of Rutaceae and is a member of the Bromeliaceae, the pineapple carries the same characteristics of the citrus fruit family, such as high acidic content, contains inner parts (pulp) that may or may not carry seeds (depending on the variety), and have a rough, robust, colored rind. Just as the argument for tomatoes to be a fruit or veggie (fruit), it goes to carry on that the jury is split on whether the pineapple is a citrus fruit. The pineapple grows from a stem and not an evergreen tree. Citrus fruits also have a thick, white and spongy albedo, which together with the epicarp forms the pericarp or peel of the fruit, that doesn’t appear in pineapples. I still say that the argument can still be made that pineapples are of separate, but distinct member of the citrus family.

    • Jes says:

      Dearest Little Brother, all I can say in response is please see this recent post on Tim’s rebuttal on his blog, It says it all. This is the most ridiculous argument ever. I can’t even begin to entertain the notion of pineapple being a citrus fruit. Jes’s explanation has everything you need to find out the truth. Tim’s explanation has next to nothing in it at all. It’s like arguing with religious people (Time representing the religious people) you give them all the facts and information to prove something to them and all you get in return is “well I have faith so that’s all I need” It’s pointless to argue with people who refuse to make any attempt at all at understanding the truth and that’s exactly what kind of person Tim seems to be. I’m sure you guys are good friends and whatever, but Jes, don’t waste your time trying to win an argument that you already had won before you even started. Peace

  4. Tempe says:

    Thank you for all this great info and the lively debate in the Comments! Love it! I’ll just say that I came here as part of a search to find out if Pineapple is indeed a citrus fruit, but the question I really needed answered was “Does pineapple contain citric acid?”. I’ve been on an allergy elimination diet recently to figure out which foods I’m sensitive to, and citrus is one of the things I am avoiding for right now. So, for me it would be helpful to have your article include a little blurb about the fact that while pineapple is not categorized as a citrus fruit per se, it does contain citric acid.
    That distinction was inportant for me, and might be helpful to others.
    Thanks again!
    Tempe

    • Jes says:

      Hi Tempe!
      I’m sure this was a rather amusing post to come upon in your search. :) Pineapple does indeed contain citric acid. So if that is something you’re trying to eliminate from your diet, I would definitely keep Pineapple out of the mix. A number of tropical fruits contain levels of citric acid even though they aren’t citrus fruits. Good luck on your diet, and I hope you’re able to determine what foods work best for you.
      All the best,
      Jes

      • StarWatcher says:

        Almost… almost…

        So, if a pineapple does contain citric acid, would a person who’s allergic to citrus fruits (orange, lemon) also be allergic to pineapple?

        I read in the Stargate Atlantis fandom. One of the characters, Rodney McKay, is deathly allergic to citric fruits. (Anaphalaxis, epi-pens, the whole bit.) Once in a while, an author will have him buying pineapple along with other fruits. It throws me out of the story every time, so I finally came looking for an answer.

        I can accept that pineapple technically isn’t a citrus fruit… but would Rodney be safe in eating some?

        Not earth-shattering, as you see, but it really bugs me. Can you help?

        Thank you,

        StarWatcher

        • Jes says:

          Hi There, I’m no allergy expert, but if the character is allergic to Citric Acid specifically then yes he would be allergic to Pineapple. But his list of potential allergenic foods would go far beyond that because Citric Acid is added to tons of processed foods – sodas, candy, canned vegetables, etc. If, however, it is a Citrus Fruit allergy then usually it is reaction not to citric acid, but to specific proteins and substances found in citrus fruits (like Limonene). Limonene is primarily found in the rind of citrus fruits, so I don’t think it is necessarily a component of Pineapple, but you would have to consult an expert to be sure. People who are allergic to citrus fruit also tend to be very allergic to the protein in the seeds. I found no indication on any medical sites that indicated an allergy to citrus fruits includes pineapple – this just further bolsters my position that Pineapple is NOT a citrus fruit. Thank You! And I hope Rodney McKay survives his allergy!

          • StarWatcher says:

            Hmm… well, we’re talking about a TV character, and we know how consistent the writers always are, right? *snicker*

            I’d have to watch the episode again (and haven’t the time now), but I’m pretty sure the spoken phrase was, “deathly allergic to citrus”. I don’t remember him ever drinking a soda (coffee by the gallon, and beer when appropriate), but he eats lots of sweets, including candy, and is pretty indiscriminate about anything on the table (unless it contains oranges, lemons, those juices, etc), so I doubt that canned vegetables are a problem.

            So, thank you! I’ll go with Limonene as the problem, and quit worrying about pineapple. As for the possibility of Rodney’s survival — chances are very high. Fanfiction writers sometimes enjoy putting him in peril via citrus fruits accidents, but of course he always gets proper treatment in time to save his life. *g*

            Thanks again,

            StarWatcher

  • […] If you were invited to a citrus-themed potluck, would you assume that you could cook something with pineapple to qualify? I certainly thought pineapple was citrus, since I figured citrus covered any tangy fruit grown in a tropical zone. I recently came across a strong argument, however, to the contrary. Here is one compelling excerpt from the essay of note: “…Pineapple is always categorized separately from the Citrus family. Tropical defines a climate, while Citrus is an actual genus of plant species. Pineapple is in the Ananas genus, and is the best known plant of the group.” Read the entire piece here: Pineapple: A Citrus Fruit? […]

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    About the Author – Jes

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