Pineapples are natives of Paraguay and southern Brazil, although they are cultivated in many places in the US. They are
bromeliads, the only bromeliads that are cultivated for food. Like most members of this family, pineapples store water, trapping
it within tightly overlapped leaf bases.
Identification: Pineapples are cultivated in Hawaii and they do not spread in the
wild, so you aren't likely to encounter them outside of gardens or commercial growers. The pineapple is a series of fruits fused
around a central stalk, with tough, spiky leaves emerging from the top, and this arrangement is very distinctive.
(Though see the pineapple lily for a curious, albeit unrelated, plant.)
Edibility: Pineapple fruit is prized for its sweet, acid flavor. It contains
an enzyme that tenderizes meat, making it a good component for marinades. Medically, this same enzyme
is used to treat edema and inflammation, along with various uses in folk medicine.