Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Pineapples as symbols of welcome

2014-01-25 15.19.59 Stone pineapples [Ananas comosus] are often seen at the entrances to even quite modest homes.
According to the Miami Herald of 4 February 1984:
‘Members of the British East Indies Company brought the plants to England where they were cultivated in 17th century hot houses. Only the very rich could afford the fruit, so it became synonymous with opulence and high living. Middle-class party givers had to be content with renting the fruit for centre-piece displays. American sea captains gave the custom a new twist during the era of New England’s great sailing ships. When a captain arrived home from the tropics he brought pineapples with him. He placed one on the newel (post) of his front stairway to let everyone know he was home and waiting for his friends to visit.’

In fact, although pineapples are now widely cultivated throughout tropical Asia, the plant is of New World origin, and the first fruits to reach the British Isles came from the West (not the East) Indies.

Main image,  entrance to Compton Verney, Warwickshire, probably late 18th century, April 2023; upper inset,Balham High Road, London Borough of Wandsworth, January 2014; lower inset, Woodfield Road, London Borough of Lambeth, also January 2014.

Updated 29 April 2023.