Pineapple is technically a perennial herb, native to the lowlands of northern South America. The pineapple has been cultivated thereabouts since pre-Colombian times. It first spread to Central America and was then introduced to the rest of the tropical world by the Portuguese and Spanish.
A dry, tropical climate is ideal for Pineapple production. The fruit is very drought-resistant but sensitive to frosts, therefore best grown in lowland regions near the sea. The pineapple has no seed and is propagated by the spiky crown that grows out the top of the fruit.
The fruit contains a mixture of protein-digesting enzymes that is used in treating inflammation and swelling (post-traumatic and post-operative oedemas). The strong leaf fibers are used in the textile industry. In Panama, indigenous populations use the fiber of an undomesticated, longer-leafed, native pineapple variety.