Pineapple: A Citrus Fruit?
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.
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?