Tiny Pineapple

ananas comosus (L.) minimus

Pineapple Seller on Road to Kandy, Ceylon

Pineapple Seller on Road to Kandy, Ceylon

I love this postcard. Perhaps it’s the unusual presentation of the pineapples, or the hand-tinting, or the fact that the name of the city in Ceylon reminds me of a Martin Sexton song. Or perhaps I’m just a sucker for any postcard featuring a fabulous pineapple babe.

There’s actually a variety of pineapple called “Red Ceylon” (ananas comosus CV ‘Red Ceylon’), which is, quite appropriately, the most common pineapple grown in Sri Lanka (nee Ceylon) and India.

“The leaves are dark green with broad red central stripe and red spines on the margins. The fruit is small, 3 to 5 lbs (1.36-2.25 kg), yellow externally; has a thin core and very sweet flesh.”

Source: Purdue University’s
Center for New Crops & Plants Products

However, in 2000, Géo Coppens D’Eeckenbrugge and Freddy Leal had the audacity to suggest in The Application of the International Code of Nomenclature to Pineapple Cultivars that the “Red Ceylon” was the horticultural equivalent of an urban legend:

“Following the code, ‘Smooth Cayenne’ is clearly a cultivar….’Queen’ is also a cultivar. A detailed study might allow distinguishing clear differences between local populations or between clonal selections. However no sufficient data exist. Shoot and slip numbers are particularly variable traits. Some selections exhibit particular vigor, as ‘Mc Gregor’, but they cannot be distinguished from other similar selections. Thus, names as ‘Mauritius,’ ‘Malacca,’ ‘Red Ceylon,’ and ‘Buitenzorg.’ ‘Ripley Queen’, ‘Alexandra’ and ‘Mc Gregor’ must be considered synonyms to ‘Queen’. Only the tetraploid ‘Z’ or ‘James Queen’, found in South Africa (Nyenhuis, 1974), must be considered a distinct cultivar.”

Rubbish! And if you’re going to consolidate the naming conventions, surely an exotic name like “Red Ceylon” should win out over something as bland as “Queen.”

But they’re right about “Buitenzorg,” which should be taken out behind the nomenclature shed and put out of its misery.

White Witch Doctor

by Louise A. Stinetorf (1950)
White Witch Doctor

The life and high adventure of an American missionary nurse in the primitive Congo.


Nurse Ellen Burton could smell fresh blood.

The she saw the chilling scene. A goat had been pegged to the ground. Aganza was groveling on all fours in front of it. N’Devli, the witch doctor, jumped up and down screeching wildly. Each time he hit the ground, he pricked Aganza with his spear.

“Stop it! Stop it!” Ellen shrieked. Without thinking of her own safety, she leaped forward and wrenched the spear from the witch doctor’s hands.

In the next instant the snarling old man raised a gleaming knife high above her head…

White Witch Doctor is high adventure at its thrilling best. An amazing story of a missionary nurse’s life in the Belgian Congo, it is filled with relentless excitement, warm humor and great love.

As if White Doctor wasn’t bad enough…

But why settle for a pastiche of crude cultural and racial stereotypes when you can have a pastiche of crude cultural, racial, and religious stereotypes?

The chapter illustrations are worth noting. Here are just a few, along with the portion of the chapter related to the illustration:

White Witch Doctor Chapter Heading

Chapter 6

The story began with a description of the filing of front teeth, once a mark of cannibalism. The teeth were not literally filed. The witch doctor sat on a boy’s chest and, with a stone chisel and wooden mallet, chipped bits of the teeth away–much as the Indians used to make arrowheads. The operation, unbearably cruel, was a test of a boy’s manhood, of his general fitness to become a hardy, responsible member of the tribe.

Some of the teeth were hopelessly ruined, and when the boy reached the foppish age of young manhood, he carved others to take their place. They were sometimes amazing creations. Carved of wood or ivory, according to the wealth of the young man, they represented his accomplishments–a lion killed, or an elephant, or a leopard, or, if he had somehow acquired much wealth and therefore many wives, a phallic symbol. Some were exquisitely carved. But, beautiful or crude, these teeth were set on pins and inserted into the decayed roots in the young warrior’s head.

Onege had many such teeth…and he acknowledged his debt to the missionaries in his own fashion. He carved himself one more tooth, which he always wore in the presence of a white man. It protruded from his upper gum and extended over his lower lip clear to the tip of his chin. It was a beautifully proportioned, exquisitely carved ivory cross.

White Witch Doctor Chapter Heading

Chapter 10

When Dr. Charles came, I laughed at his mountainous luggage, forgetting that I had been guilty of exactly the same thing. Among other odds and ends, he brought a galvanized iron bath tub, which we all looked at with wondering eyes, hoping desperately that sometime, somehow, we should be invited to bathe in it. Just to sit down in that tub and feel soft, warm, perhaps even perfumed, water lapping about our tummies suddenly seemed the most enticing experience imaginable. We never knew that luxury, however. Only a few days after Dr. Charles set up the tub in his bathing dukas–with a most ingenious arrangement of plumbing contrived from joints of bamboo–his wife found a snake coiled up in the bottom of it one morning, and in her efforts to kill it with a club, she knocked apart every seam in the tub.

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