We’re big fans of citrus fruits, whether enjoyed in juices and pies or on their own as a healthy snack. And we’re also totally into pineapple—a tad more exotic, but boasting a similarly sweet and acidic flavor profile to that of the juiciest orange (and every bit as delicious, too). But wait, is pineapple citrus? No, in fact, it is not. Although pineapples have quite a bit in common with citrus fruits (like taste, Vitamin C content and a love of warm weather), they are not actually related to one another.
No one could blame you for thinking otherwise, but it turns out that pineapple is not a type of citrus fruit...not even a distant cousin, in fact. If the news is coming as a big surprise for you, just take a deep breath and say a quiet thank you to all the botanists who puzzled this one out and came up with a straightforward distinction long before the question even crossed your mind. Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at what makes pineapple distinct from citrus fruit.
Pineapples and citrus don’t belong to the same family
The genus of any given piece of fruit—a biological classification that denotes a bunch of similar species—is probably not on your mind when you’re browsing the produce aisle. It is, however, pretty key when understanding why pineapple can’t be lumped into the same category as, say, a juicy mandarin orange. As it turns out, Citrus is a genus unto itself. (Yep, you’ve been using a fancy science term your whole life and had no idea.) Pineapple, on the other hand, belongs to the Ananas genus. In fact, any botanist around, or any dictionary for that matter, will tell you that citrus fruits and pineapple don’t just belong to different genuses: there’s actually no overlap between the two family trees whatsoever. (Hint: One doesn’t even come from a tree.) Yep, a family is another biological classification, even broader than a genus...and citrus and pineapple are two types of fruit that hail from very different ones—Rutaceae and Bromeliaceae, respectively.
Pineapples don't grow on trees
Now that we got the technical terms out of the way, let’s move on to something more relatable. Lemon, lime, orange, kumquat, grapefruit—these are just a few different types of citrus fruits...and they all grow on trees. Pineapples do not. Native to South America and a member of the Bromeliad family, pineapple is actually the fruit of a flowering perennial plant—a spiky bush, if you will—that grows in soil and stays, well, low to the ground. It’s also worth noting that each healthy bromeliad plant bears only one piece of fruit per season, so there’s not the same abundance you’d find in a fruit-filled citrus grove.
Pineapples don’t grow from seed
Although you might encounter a few black seeds in the flesh of a pineapple, they won’t do you much good in your gardening endeavors. Unlike citrus fruits, which propagate from seed, pineapple is what’s referred to as a ‘runner’—meaning that it only produces clone plants if you cut off and plant the crown of the fruit. Neat, right?
Pineapples prefer more humid climates
Although pineapple and citrus alike are considered tropical fruits, pineapple is a bit pickier when it comes to the weather. Citrus will fare just fine as long as the weather is warm and mild all year long, and actually prefers hot and dry climates; as such, the majority of citrus fruit is grown in subtropical regions. In contrast, pineapple plants come from the real tropics—regions where the weather is not only hot, but also humid.
So, there you have it, friends—pineapples are definitely not related to citrus. That said, the two types of fruit do taste lovely together so, by all means, throw ‘em both in a blender and treat yourself to a tropical smoothie.