Origin diversity and description of cultivars

Early European pineapple experts recognized as many as 48-68 pineapple cultivars and classified them on the basis of spininess, fruit shape and flower colour (Munro, 1835; Beer, 1857). Most of them originated from coastal regions, such as the Caribbean, from which sea trade favoured their distribution to other tropical countries and to the European glasshouses. Others were grown from seeds in Europe. Nearly all disappeared with European production and only 'Queen', 'Smooth Cayenne', 'Baronne de Rothschild', 'Havannah' ('Española Roja'), 'Black Antigua' and 'Montserrat' are still known today. The first two have reached all tropical and subtropical countries. 'Singapore Spanish', which was introduced very early, is still cultivated to some extent in Asia. Other cultivars are economically important in their region of origin, such as 'Pérola' in Brazil,

'Española Roja' in the Caribbean and 'Perolera' and 'Manzana' in the Andes of Colombia and Venezuela. Germplasm movement has been accompanied by clonal differentiation and/or selection and the cultivars have frequently been renamed, often with the same or similar names (e.g. 'Sugar Loaf'). Some authors have classified them into horticultural groups. The last of these classifications, by Py et al. (1987), recognizes five such groups: 'Cayenne', 'Queen', 'Spanish', 'Pernambuco' and 'Perolera'. Since then, a much wider diversity of cultivars has been collected and characterized, making the earlier classifications inadequate, confusing and inappropriate. Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al. (1997) proposed abandoning such classifications and coming back to the international nomenclature for cultivars (Anon., 1980). Accordingly, a new name can only be attributed to a new cultivar whose characteristics are stable and clearly distinct, regardless of whether the method of development is through clonal selection or sexual recombination. Thus, most minor variants and clonal selections should not be considered as new cultivars, although a small difference in fruit size may be economically very significant. To take into account interclonal genetic variation and regional nomenclature, Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge et al. (1997) proposed mentioning local names or specific clones together with the cultivar name, which would give, for instance, 'Champaka' ('Smooth Cayenne') and 'McGregor' ('Queen').

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