Growth Habit: The pineapple plant is a herbaceous perennial, 2-1/2 to 5 ft. high with a spread of 3 to 4 ft. It is essentially a short, stout stem with a rosette of waxy, straplike leaves. Foliage: The long-pointed leaves are 20 - 72 in. in length, usually needle tipped and generally bearing sharp, upcurved spines on the margins. They may be all green or variously striped with red, yellow or ivory down the middle or near the margins. As the stem continues to grow, it acquires at its apex a compact tuft of stiff, short leaves called the crown or top. Occasionally a plant may bear 2 or more heads instead of the normal one. Flowers: At blooming time, the stem elongates and enlarges near the apex and puts forth an inflorescence of small purple or red flowers. The flowers are pollinated by humming-birds, and these flowers usually develop small, hard seeds. Seeds are generally not found in commercially grown pineapple. Fruit: The oval to cylindrical-shaped, compound fruit develops from many small fruits fused together. It is both juicy and fleshy with the stem serving as the fibrous core. The tough, waxy rind may be dark green, yellow, orange-yellow or reddish when the fruit is ripe. The flesh ranges from nearly white to yellow. In size the fruits are up to 12 in. long and weigh 1 to 10 pounds or more. The presence of pineapples on Caribbean islands was not a natural event, but rather the result of centuries of indian migration and commerce. Accomplished dugout canoe navigators, the maritime tribes explored, raided and traded across a vast expanse of tropical oceans, seas and river systems. The herbaceous plant they called "anana," or "excellent fruit," originally evolved in the inland areas of what is now Brazil and Paraguay and was widely transplanted and cultivated. Highly regarded for its intense sweetness, the "excellent fruit" was a staple of indian feasts and rites related to tribal affirmation. It was also used to produce Indian wine. The first encounter between a European and a pineapple occurred in November, 1493, when Christopher Columbus, on his second voyage to the Caribbean region, lowered anchor in a cove off the lush, volcanic island of Guadaloupe and went ashore to inspect a deserted Carib village. There, amidst parrot-flecked jungle foliage and wooden pillars spiraled with serpent carvings, his crew came upon cook pots filled with human body parts. Nearby were piles of freshly gathered vegetables and fruits, including pineapples. The European sailors ate, enjoyed and recorded the curious new fruit which had an abrasive, segmented exterior like a pine cone and a firm interior pulp like an apple.