The pineapple (Ananas comosus) belongs to the bromeliaceae plant family and is an unusual plant. Each plant produces only one pineapple, which takes a full 13 to 15 months to grow before it is ready for harvesting. The fruit is made up of a berry cluster and a fruit stem axis. The term "comosus" is the Latin term for mophead, and refers to the fruit's leaves, which resemble the head of a mop.
Pineapple cultivation has a long history. The plant was used by the indigenous peoples of South America for food and wine, and as a natural remedy. Portuguese sailors who came across the fruit helped it to gain global popularity. However, the fruit's relatively short shelf life made it difficult to trade. This led to the pineapple becoming a status symbol in Europe, and cultivation of the plants became fashionable among British aristocrats in the 17th century.
Several varieties of pineapple exist, including Smooth Cayenne, MD2, Spanish, Queen, Pernambuco and Perolera. The Smooth Cayenne variety is one of the top cultivars, and produces pineapples which weigh up to 4kg each. It is characterised by its aromatic flavour and light yellow flesh. The MD2 variety is another important cultivar, which is characterised by a sweeter flavour and lower acidity.