Hummingbirds and Pineapples

What are you? Can I eat you?

What are you? Can I eat you?

Hawaii has more endangered species per square mile than any other place on the planet and that does not include the Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) referring to me as the “odd duck.”

But some common critters are missing in the islands.

We have no robins, magpies or chickadees. No seagulls and no pelicans. We don’t have raccoons or skunks and you’ll never see Possum One. You cannot buy a hamster here.

Forget about gerbils and snakes as they, too, are prohibited.

Hawaii centipede. The bite is agonizing.

Hawaii centipede. The bite is agonizing.

On the other hand, we have mynah birds and mongooses, geckos and pseudo cardinals with red topknots and gray bodies.

The mongoose was brought in to control rats. Big mistake. The rat is nocturnal; the mongoose is diurnal.

The mongoose was brought to Hawaii to control rats. Big mistake. The rat is nocturnal; the mongoose is diurnal.



The pseudo cardinal, technically a Brazilian Cardinal.

The pseudo cardinal, technically a Brazilian Cardinal.



We have centipedes and flying cockroaches the size of small pets.

We call them B-52s. They can fly.

The Hawaii cockroach. We call them B-52s. They fly.

We also have, believe it or not, wallabies although few ever see them. Take that, Rowena and Diana and put it your Australia blogs.

Because we have such an isolated environment and a plethora of unique species our State is very concerned about the potential for invasive species.


Currently there is a growing threat from the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle – a battle tank of an insect, a bad dream for bug haters, the ’69 Cadillac of bugs. And they fly, too.

This guiy really gets around. He is endangering palms all over Oahu. Public enemy #1.

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle. This guy really gets around. He is endangering palms all over Oahu. Public enemy #1.

This guy burrows into palm trees and eats the heart from them and given his size and appetite, this is a real threat.

But I digress.

One other thing missing in Hawaii are hummingbirds.

Nope, despite popular opinion and romanticized visions of tropical islands, there are no hummers here. In fact, they are banned by State law.

“Why?” you ask. Well that’s why you come to this silly dog blog. I can answer your question.

It all has to do with pineapples. And pollination.

You see one of these babies, you buy it! This variety, introduced in 2005 is super sweet, super low acid. So ono!

You see one of these babies, you buy it! The Maui Gold variety, introduced in 2005 is super sweet, super low acid. So ono (delicious)!

See, pollination is a bad word in the world of pineapples.

If the pineapple flower pollinates then seeds will develop and that is not desirable in fruit for the market.

Picture a pineapple with all those little geo-domes on its hide, the funny little medallions that make up its outer skin. Were the plant to pollinate, each of those discs would grow a hard seed making the pineapple tougher than Chuck Norris.

How tough is Chuck Norris? Well, let’s just say he can text from a pay phone, he can cut through a hot knife with butter, he can…oh never mind…

Pineapples are native to South America having been grown first by the Guarani Indians in Brazil and Paraguay. Since pineapples are unable to self-fertilize, they will only develop seeds if they are cross-pollinated with another pineapple plant. Their primary pollinators are…wait for it… hummingbirds.

Where's the pineapple? Somebody shoe me the pineapple.

Where’s the pineapple? Somebody show me the pineapple.

Yes there is a certain irony in banning non-native hummingbirds while encouraging non-native fruit plants but, hey, there’s a whole lot more money in pines than hummers. Deal with it.

So forget pollination of the flowers by tiny winged creatures. While pineapples can reproduce sexually through seeds, they are most often propagated by planting the crowns or the little tuft-like growths that occur on the bottom of the fruit.

Side note: as a young man I worked in the Kauai pineapple fields, walking behind a moving conveyor truck picking up the pine crowns after the fruit had been plucked.

It's called "picking seed" and it is job that "builds character" meaning it is a miserable job.

It’s called “picking seed” and it is job that “builds character” meaning it is a miserable job.

Hardest, hottest, most miserable job I ever had. The pineapple leaves are sharp spines that constantly spear you and draw blood despite being bundled and the cane spiders were big enough to bark. A story for another day and proof my parents hated me.

Here’s a unique pineapple fact that can win you a few bar bets, payable in mai tais, pina coladas, hurricanes, zombies or other tropical drinks with a pineapple juice base: a pineapple does not continue to ripen after it has been picked. Nope, that’s because the fruit does not have a starch reserve that would allow it to ripen any further.

By the way, the Absolut vodka website lists over 205 cocktails for which pineapple juice is an ingredient. That alone should give everyone a reason to live.

Maltese, however, are not fond of pineapples. From Max’s perspective, pineapples are good only for establishing the size of a certain small pushy dog.

Arooooo! This is not a dog treat. I demand a dog treat. Stat!

Arooooo! This is not a dog treat. I demand a dog treat. Attica! Attica!

27 replies

  1. Oh, my gosh–that Hawaiian cockroach–I will have nightmares!!!! We have flying roaches here in the Panhandle, but they must be the bastard cousins b/c they are not near that size! The palmetto bugs in south FL are big but I don’t think they fly. Do you squash those things? I think I would just scream and hope that would kill it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve woken more than once with one of them crawling on me and I’m not proud of the sound I make. My personal bane are those 6″- 8″ centipedes, I hate them, they are aggressive and scary.


  2. Having spent time in Panama (where the entomologists train), He knows. You haven’t lived until you mistakenly sit down in the path of the leaf-cutter ants. As for me, I say bugs are good eating.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I did not realize Chuck Norris was Helen Keller’s favorite color, so thank you for that. He is very vivid and larger than life. I thought seagulls would travel wherever bread exists. So why aren’t they there yet? My house is decorated with palm trees and pineapples, so I cannot badmouth either. Also, Max looks strangely like my mother’s dog, who passed away six days ago, so it is hard to look at Max, cute as he is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of Mom’s doggie. The pups are with us such a short time but they bring so much happiness.

      FYI, we have albatrosses which look like seagulls on steroids but the true seagull doesn’t travel out this far over the Pacific. I figured you’d like Chuck since he was born in Oklahoma which I understand is Texas Del Norte.


      • His son was in my son’s karate class a few years ago, so I know he has a home here. I think the son had a weird bowl cut, but who would mess w/ him, right? I know what an albatross is because I saw “The Rescuers” in the 70s. I still feel like that’s really lazy on the part of the seagulls.


  4. I wonder what Dole uses here to keep the humming birds at bay…probably something lethal and chemical.
    That flying roach appears here from time to time…the poodle kills them but won’t eat them…she would sympathise with Max…a pineapple is not a dog treat!


    • Hmmm…that’s a good question. Perhaps the roaches ambush the hummers before they reach the pine fields. Max, the ultimate cowardly canine, runs in fear from the B-52 cockroaches. Then he stands off a short distance and barks at them.


  5. Oh my god that cockroach will give me nightmares! I mean I thought we had it bad in Hong Kong but they are way smaller than that! And on the whole they don’t fly although I did have one that flew in my face, I think I screamed so high pitched only dogs managed to hear me.


  6. Hi Tom,
    I was really stoked to hear that there’s a little patch of Australia over in Hawaii. I love quirky stories. Last year, I found out that Napoleon & Josephine Bonaparte had a menagerie of Australian animals in France. Here’s some info:
    During World War II, Winston Churchill requested a live platypus and Winston was sent over by chip but unfortunately he died en route and ended up stuffed on Winston Churchill’s desk. Not a very auspicious end after all.
    Although your population of wallbies is confirmed, we have had sightings of a large back panther like cat in Western Sydney. I’ve attached a link:
    Wouldn’t mind some of that alcoholic pineapple juice. Sounds fabulous! Best wishes, Rowena


    • Those are interesting links, thanks for sending! No thanks on the panther cat – I’ll stick to the miniature ‘roos. But I’ve been in the wallabies’ home area many times but have never spotted one. They are very elusive and shy.


    • I think there’s a bit of “forced perspective” that makes the critter look bigger than life but we do have some big roaches. Clowie could handle them – one swipe from the massive paw and bye-bye bug!


  7. My son ‘carved’ a Maui Gold into a jack-o-lantern for ‘Howl-o-ween’ and I’d love to try that sometime but prefer eating them as soon as I get them home. As for your bugs…please keep them. Those freaking centipedes are enough to make me screech like a little girl. And I think the crunch of that beetle under my Doc Martins might be deafening. Most of Hawaii’s birds are quite lovely, just not the feral chickens who are way too aggressive for my vegetarian sensibilities. 🙂


    • I agree – Maui Golds are the best and the ‘pedes are the worst. Before we became condo hermits we had a big yard and I always had my machete strapped to my leg when I was working in the darker, wetter spots so that I could decapitate the centipedes on sight. I heard that ‘pedes keep the roach population down ( if so they do a lousy job) but I don’t care. That’s an evil insect.


  8. What a great post! We really enjoyed reading your scientific and economic explanations, and especially enjoyed laughing with your post! You’re very funny! That character building your parents encouraged definitely paid off! 😉


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