So there’s a spiky skin topped with a shock of greenery, all concealing sweet yellow fruit. You’re not thinking about queen or king pineapples, a pineapple is just a pineapple, right?
Wrong. There are more than three dozen varieties of pineapple which are importantly divided in part between king pineapples and queen pineapples.
Read on to learn more about the queen pineapple, from its health benefits to how to use them in meals to how to grow them.
Characteristics of Queen Pineapple
When most of us think about pineapples, what we’re thinking about is some variety of the king pineapple. Queen pineapples, though, are smaller and have a sweeter aroma.
Additionally, these pineapples, which come in a number of varieties, fare better against disease threats than king pineapples.
On the downside, the growth range of these pineapples is concentrated in Australia and South Africa, but wherever they may be found, they tolerate cold weather better than king pineapples.
Varieties of Queen Pineapple
There are a number of varieties of queen pineapples among the dozens of variations, with three of the most popular varieties being the Natal Queen, the MacGregor, and the Ripley.
The Natal Queen variety is, like other varieties, among the sweetest examples of pineapple. That sweetness, though, comes in a small package, with most Natal Queens weighing in at between one and two pounds.
Illustrating the interrelated nature of pineapple varieties, the MacGregor queen pineapple is a variant of the Natal Queen. Considered more vigorous than Natal Queen, the MacGregor plant produces medium- to large-size fruit with notably firm flesh.
One way to identify the Ripley pineapple is the crimson coloring on the plants’ leaves. Ripley pineapple plants bear fruit irregularly, but when they do, it takes five months from flowering for the pineapples to reach maturity.
At maturity, Ripley pineapples will weigh between three and six pounds.
Getting Queen Pineapples Into Your Diet
Because they aren’t well-suited for canning, these pineapples are best eaten fresh, but there are other ways to get them onto your table. WeGro Farming offers a number of recipes using these pineapples, from salads to pork dishes and beef dishes.
You might also want to check out the Cleveland Clinic website for recipes including grilled pineapple and pineapple yogurt fruit salad.
Health Benefits of Queen Pineapples
As part of the pineapple family, these pineapples are an excellent addition to the diet, not least because a one-cup serving comes with just 75 calories, and comes without any fat, no sodium, and cholesterol.
That same single cup will provide about a third of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C, along with an array of several B vitamins, 10% of daily fiber needs, all of the manganese you’ll need for a day, and quantities of other minerals including copper and potassium.
Beyond that, there is developing evidence — thus far based only on animal research — that indicates pineapple may have some efficacy in weight loss. Even without those studies, health experts have long noted a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is key to weight loss.
Interestingly, pineapple is the only food containing the enzyme known as bromelain, which helps skin and tissues heal after injury, and also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Special Health Benefits for Women
Like other varieties of fruit, these pineapples bring particular health benefits to women. The high concentration of Vitamin C protects bones from damage, which in turn helps protect women from osteoporosis. That’s important because osteoporosis is four times more likely to affect women.
Pineapples help women meet the increased requirements for minerals and vitamins during pregnancy. One interesting example is that the copper available in pineapples is an integral part of developing a baby’s heart and nervous system.
In addition, the bromelain in pineapples has been shown to have some efficacy in countering breast cancer.
Growing Queen Pineapples at Home
Because pineapples require tropical conditions, having your own queen pineapple plants might be difficult unless you live in Hawaii, California, Florida, or other western and southern states.
If you do want to try growing your own queen pineapple plants, you can use the top of a pineapple purchased at your local grocery store or farmers’ market. If your pineapple isn’t clearly identified, try asking the grocer or farmer if it’s a queen variety.
Once you get your pineapple home, cut the top about 1.5 inches below the leaves. Trim some lower leaves away, and cut from the edge of your cut until some root buds are revealed. The root buds will appear as small brownish bumps.
Allow your cut pineapple top to dry for several days, and then place it in a container of light soil, in indirect light, covering it to the base of its leaves. Keep the soil moist until roots begin to develop (about six to eight weeks) and move the plant so it gets six hours of direct light.
Your pineapple container can be moved outdoors for the spring and summer, but be sure it is back indoors before the first frost in fall. And just so you’re prepared, you shouldn’t expect to see any pineapples for at least two or three years.
Given their sweetness, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that your pineapples will attract some pests. Major pineapple pests include sap-sucking scale and mealybugs, which will appear on the underside of pineapple plant leaves.
Scale and mealybugs can be dealt with through the application of horticultural oil.
Top rot and root rot, each caused by a different pathogen, are fungal diseases common to pineapples. Root rot appears as drooping leaves and other general signs of distress, while top rot may manifest as dead leaves.
Both root rot and top root are caused by either overwatering or having your plants in poorly drained soil. The two diseases can be addressed by changing your watering practices, or by repotting plants in fresh soil.
Where to Buy Queen Pineapples
While there are many places to buy pineapple crowns online, finding a variety of queen pineapple may be difficult. However, Fast Growing Trees has a great selection of pineapple crowns for you to choose from!
Of course, if you can’t find a plant online, you can always check with your local garden center or home store. Or, as noted above, you can find a queen pineapple at your local grocery store or farmers’ market and grow your own at home.
Wrapping up Queen Pineapples
We hope this post has provided you with an introduction to queen pineapples, and maybe have you thinking about growing your own queen pineapple plant. For more information on pineapples, check out our Pineapple Page.