Plant Collector: Ananas sagenaria

Ananas sagenaria - hardier than a tropical pineapple

Ananas sagenaria – hardier than a tropical pineapple

My photograph of a ripe pineapple attracted considerable comment last week and I am pleased to report that it was tasty and sweeter than usual when it came to eating. We have had this pineapple growing in a warm spot against a brick wall for over 50 years now. Its productivity is closely linked to how much care we give it and that is negligible most years. It wants maximum heat, good drainage and plenty of compost but it will survive on benign neglect. It is fiercely prickly.

Pineapples are bromeliads and Felix Jury received A. sagenaria as part of a collection of bromeliads that he imported from Florida back in the late 1950s. It originates from large parts of central and eastern South America and is from the same family as the commercial pineapple – which is usually A. comosus. It is not as good to eat as the tropical pineapple, but it is hardier.

Ananas sagenaria was marketed widely a few years ago, but not by us. We had a wry smile as we watched a Northlander come in, brashly confident that there was a gold mine in it which we had failed to realise. He advertised it widely as the red pineapple and described it as hardy. To us, hardy means it will grow in Christchurch and Invercargill. All we would say about A. sagenaria is that it is hardier than the tropical varieties.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.