Orange, kumquat, grapefruit, lemon, lime and... pineapple?
May 3, 2009 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Is pineapple citrus? Why or why not?
posted by Rash to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Citrus is the plant family Rutaceae, pineapples are part of the bromeliad family. So no, pineapples are not citrus.
posted by girlgenius at 4:36 PM on May 3, 2009

From the OED:


3. The juicy edible fruit of a tropical American bromeliad, Ananas comosus, a large multiple fruit developed from a conical spike of flowers, which has yellow flesh surrounded by a tough segmented skin and is topped by a tuft of stiff spiky leaves. Also: the plant bearing this fruit, which is widely cultivated in tropical countries and in hothouses. Cf. PINE n.2 4a.


1. The Latin name of the citron-tree, now used as the name of the genus which includes the citron, lemon, lime, orange, shaddock, and their many varieties. Freq. attrib. or as adj.

Looks like it's a bromeliad.
posted by puckish at 4:38 PM on May 3, 2009

Citrus fruit has a thick rind. Pineapple does not. Citrus fruit has pith and segmented pulp inside. Pineapple does not.
posted by iconomy at 4:39 PM on May 3, 2009

You may be confused because pineapple contains citric acid. However, that does not make it a citrus fruit, because the definition of a citrus fruit comes from its evolutionary origin, not its chemical makeup.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:47 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pineapples are not even close relatives of the citrus. There are two major groups of flowering plants, the monocots and the dicots. This is as fundamental a division of plants as the division of animals into the superphylum that contains vertebrates and one of the several invertebrate superphyla.

Qualitatively, pineapples are as different from citrus plants as lobster is from fish, despite some superficial similarities in a culinary sense.
posted by grouse at 4:51 PM on May 3, 2009 [7 favorites]

I meant to mention that pineapples are monocots and citrus plants are dicots.
posted by grouse at 4:53 PM on May 3, 2009

Rash, what prompted this question? To me, pineapple is so obviously not citrus that i can't see why you'd ask this. (Sort of like if someone posted "are apples meat?"). Is there some interesting/not-well-known similarity between pineapples and citrus that prompted you to wonder this?

(I'm genuinely interested, not trolling, fyi.)
posted by Kololo at 6:22 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is there some interesting/not-well-known similarity between pineapples and citrus that prompted you to wonder this?

Pineapple juice is acidic like the juice of citrus fruits, and therefore culinarily can be used in similar ways. If one is unaware that the word "citrus" has a specific botanical meaning, I could sorta see how it could get lumped together.
posted by desuetude at 6:42 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Kololo, I think it's a somewhat common misconception, possibly due to the acidity (and maybe color and texture?) of pineapple.

(I remember one of my friends, perhaps in college, mention that pineapples were citrus, and my reaction was along the lines of "The hell? Of course they're not." Years later, I was relating the omg-can-you-believe-someone-thought-pineapples-were-citrus story to another friend, and that friend said, "But pineapples are citrus.")
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:00 PM on May 3, 2009

hmm. Interesting, desuetude and metroid baby. I guess because citrus fruits are all so similar (all have similar peels, segments, and flesh, varying only in colour, size, and subtleties of flavour), that it never occured to me to question that a fruit without any of those attributes might be citrus. I guess if you're mostly familiar with pineapple in it's non-natural forms - ie as juice, or canned, or pre-cut, then those differences wouldn't be so obvious.
posted by Kololo at 7:37 PM on May 3, 2009

Actually I was hoping for an answer like yours, MB -- I'm aware there's a botanical difference, at some very basic level -- citrus fruits grow on trees whereas pineapples come from those spiky, er, bromeliads. But I wondered if some think they're all the same. There's certainly some similarities -- maybe a better question would be,

Pineapple and citirus fruits -- how are they the same, and how are they different? (With a focus on things like storage and cooking.)
posted by Rash at 7:48 PM on May 3, 2009

But I wondered if some think they're all the same.

Citrus fruits aren't even prepared or used the same way as one another- you eat the entire kumquat, peel and all; kaffir lime is most often used for it's leaves, sweet oranges are peeled and eaten out of hand, while the average human would be unlikely to peel and eat a lemon or lime; sour oranges are often used for marmalade, citron is used for it's peel.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:42 PM on May 3, 2009

fwiw, I've always grouped pineapples in with citrus fruits in my head, in a culinary kind of sense. I've never given any thought to whether they're actually citrus, so when I saw your question I read the answers to see whether they are or not. I had never given any thought as to what citrus even meant, botanically speaking.

So to answer, "I wondered if some think they're all the same," yeah, I sort of did. In my head, it was one of those things like how a tomato is technically a fruit, but it seems more like a vegetable in my head because, in a culinary way, I think of fruits as sweet. Most places I can think to use pineapple in cooking, I could just as well use an orange or another actually-citrus fruit.

If you brought me an alien plant that produced very sweet, sour, acidic juice, I would probably group it with citrus in my head, too.
posted by Nattie at 5:01 AM on May 4, 2009

Ah, oneirodynia has a good point: I can't zest a pineapple. I guess I should say that I think I could replace pineapple with a citrus fruit in a lot of dishes, but I don't think I could replace a citrus fruit with pineapple all the time. Somehow, though, that's enough for me to think of it as very similar to citrus.
posted by Nattie at 5:02 AM on May 4, 2009

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