Is Pineapple a Fruit or Vegetable?

  • Time to read: 5 min.

The term “vegetable’’ can be confusing, mainly because it’s used more as a culinary term than an accurate botanical designation. If a pumpkin and a cucumber are considered fruits, you may wonder if a pineapple is a fruit at all.

A pineapple is a multiple fruit of the sororis type that develops from an inflorescence or cluster of flowers. Each flower produces a single fruit that matures into one mass and is an accessory fruit. These fruits incorporate other parts of the plant into the fruit as well as the ovary. 

A pineapple is a fruit and not a vegetable according to botanical classification. Typically vegetables refer to any parts of edible plants that aren’t the fruit, such as leaves, stems, and roots. If you’d like to know why pineapples are considered a fruit, keep reading.

What Kind of Fruit Is a Pineapple?

A pineapple is a multiple or collective fruit which is a type of fruiting plant that forms from a collection of fruiting flowers called an inflorescence. Each of the multiple clustered flowers produces a single fruit, but they collectively mature into a single mass. 

After it has flowered, this collective fruit mass is called an infructescence, and the pineapple shares its fruit type with:

  • Figs
  • Mulberries
  • Osage-orange
  • Jackfruit

There are two types of multiple fruits. The syconus multiple fruit hides the inner ovaries in a hollow receptacle such as the fig. On the other hand, the pineapple is a sororis type fruit and develops from a complete inflorescence

Each polygon shape in the pineapple’s mass is an individual flower that has borne fruit, and the edible portion of the pineapple is formed by the following:

  • Peduncle
  • Perianth
  • Bracts

Pineapples are simple fruits that develop from below the attachment of other floral parts, and parts of the plant typically fuse with the ovary and ripen with it. These include the petals, sepals, and stamens. When the floral parts other than the ovary form a substantial portion of the fruit, it’s also known as an accessory fruit.

Accessory fruits sometimes fall under the banner of false fruit as the fruit tissue isn’t developed solely from the ovary itself. Other terms also refer to the pineapple as spurious fruit, pseudofruit, or pseudocarp. 

Fruit vs. Vegetable Differences

The term vegetable isn’t a precise botanical or scientific term and has a somewhat arbitrary application. The designation vegetable is more of a culinary term and may refer to almost every herbaceous plant that human beings can consume.

As the term vegetable isn’t a scientific designation, most people accept the term to incorporate the more savory edible plants instead of the sweeter varieties of fruit. 

The basic understood definition of the term vegetable also typically applies to all the edible parts of a plant that’s not defined as a fruit, including:

  • Roots
  • Stems
  • Seeds
  • Flowers
  • Tubers
  • Leaves

Fruit refers to a ripened ovary or carpel that typically contains seeds in botanical terms. These seeds develop from the ovule after fertilization. What makes the term vegetable more confusing is that many botanically classified fruits have the label of vegetables such as the:

  • Tomato 
  • Bell pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant 
  • Corn 
  • Pumpkin
  • Chilli peppers

People Also Ask

Why Is It Called a Pineapple?

The explorer Captain John Smith was the earliest to record the name of the pineapple ostensibly for its resemblance to a pine cone in 1624. He then followed the botanical trend of the time by calling any unknown fruit by the name of apple.

Like the love apple (tomato) and the earth apple (potato), the designation apple was a common botanical means to describe a newly encountered fruit-bearing plant. 

What Exactly Is a Pineapple?

Pineapples are tropical plants with edible fruit from the family Bromeliaceae. The delicious pineapple arrived in Europe in the 17th century, hailing from South America. Pineapples start as a small shrub that bears individual flowers that fuse to form a multiple fruit. 

One can easily propagate a pineapple from its offset or crown produced at the top of the fruit or a side shoot and expect a mature pineapple in about a year, depending on your growing conditions.

The pineapple is a herbaceous perennial and generally grows to around 1 to 1.5 m (3.28 to 4.92 ft) tall. When preparing to become fruit, the pineapple shrub produces about 200 flowers. The ovaries then develop into berries which combine into a large and compact multiple fruit. The pineapple fruit tends to form into two interlocking helices with eight growing in one direction and thirteen in the other direction. 

Is Pineapple a False Fruit?

As pineapple is an accessory fruit, the fruit flesh is created from the floral ovary and the adjacent tissue outside the carpel. Although the term false fruit has fallen out of use with modern botanists, the pineapple does fall under the designation’ false fruit.’ 

The primary defining characteristic of a true fruit is that all the fruit tissue is derived solely from a ripened ovary and its contents. As pineapples incorporate other parts of the plant along with the ovary in maturation, a more commonly accepted term is pseudofruit or pseudocarp fruit. 

Is Pineapple Related to the Apple?

The term ‘apple’ was an arbitrary designation popular in the early stages of botany to describe a newly discovered fruiting plant. The earlier name ananas was passed over for the name pineapple, first coined by Captain John Smith in 1624. 

The word apple is derived from the Old English æppel from the proto-Germanic root word ap(a)laz, which refers to fruit in general. The tradition of medieval botanists was to tag the name apple to a newly discovered plant to designate it as a fruit. 

Conclusion 

According to botanical classification, the delicious and sweet pineapple is most definitely a fruit. The term vegetable itself is a rather loose term and isn’t an authentic scientific reference. However, knowing that a pineapple is a fruit won’t help end the debate about whether or not it belongs on a pizza. 

Sources

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