Not to be confused with .
Pandanus is a of with some 750 accepted . They are palm-like, trees and shrubs native to the Old World tropics and subtropics. include pandan (),screw palm, and screw pine. They are classified in the order , family .
DescriptionAerial, prop roots
Often called pandanus palms, these plants are not closely related to palm trees. The species vary in size from small shrubs less than 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, to medium-sized trees 20 m (66 ft) tall, typically with a broad canopy, heavy fruit, and moderate growth rate. The trunk is stout, wide-branching, and ringed with many leaf scars. Mature plants can have branches. Depending on the species, the trunk can be smooth, rough, or warty. The roots form a pyramidal tract to hold the trunk. They commonly have many thick prop roots near the base, which provide support as the tree grows top-heavy with leaves, fruit, and branches. These roots are and often branched. The top of the plant has one or more crowns of strap-shaped leaves that may be spiny, varying between species from 30 cm (12 in) to 2 m (6.6 ft) or longer, and from 1.5 cm (0.59 in) up to 10 cm (3.9 in) broad.
They are , with male and female produced on different plants. The flowers of the male tree are 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) long and fragrant, surrounded by narrow, white . The female tree produces flowers with round fruits that are also bract-surrounded. The individual is a , and these merge to varying degrees forming , a globule structure, 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in) in diameter and have many prism-like sections, resembling the fruit of the . Typically, the fruit changes from green to bright orange or red as it matures. The fruits can stay on the tree for more than 12 months.
These plants grow from sea level to 3,300 m (10,800 ft). Pandanus trees are of cultural, health, and economic importance in the Pacific, second only to the on atolls. They grow wild mainly in semi-natural vegetation in littoral habitats throughout the tropical and subtropical Pacific, where they can withstand drought, strong winds, and salt spray. They propagate readily from seed, but popular cultivars are also widely propagated from branch cuttings by local people.
Species growing on exposed coastal headlands and along beaches have thick 'prop roots' as anchors in the loose sand. Those prop roots emerge from the stem, usually close to but above the ground, which helps to keep the plants upright and secure them to the ground.
While pandanus are distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical islands and coastlines of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, they are most numerous on the low islands and barren atolls of and . Other species are adapted to mountain habitats and riverine forests.
The tree is grown and propagated from shoots that form spontaneously in the axils of lower leaves. Pandanus fruits are eaten by animals including , , , and , but the vast majority of species are dispersed primarily by water. Its fruit can float and spread to other islands without help from humans.
Cultivation and usesMaking pandan wicker Pandan cake is really light flavoured with the pandan leaf extract. J. van Aken: Pandanus repens, 1860-1870 J. van Aken: Pandanus humilis, 1860-1870
Pandanus leaves are used for . Artisans collect the leaves from plants in the wild, cutting only mature leaves so that the plant will naturally regenerate. The leaves are sliced into fine strips and sorted for further processing. Weavers produce basic pandan mats of standard size or roll the leaves into pandan ropes for other designs. This is followed by a coloring process, in which pandan mats are placed in drums with water-based colors. After drying, the colored mats are shaped into final products, such as placemats or jewelry boxes. Final color touch-ups may be applied.
Pandan leaves from are used widely in and cuisines to add a distinct to various dishes and to complement flavors like chocolate. Because of their similarity in usage, pandan leaves are sometimes referred to as the " of Asia." Fresh leaves are typically torn into strips, tied in a knot to facilitate removal, placed in the cooking liquid, then removed at the end of cooking. Dried leaves and bottled extract may be bought in some places.
Pandan leaves are known as daun pandan in and ; dahon ng pandan (lit. "pandan leaf") or simply pandan in ; 斑蘭 (bān lán) in ; ဆူးေမႊးရြက္ (su mwei ywe) in , as ใบเตย (bai toei; pronounced ) in , lá dứa in ; pulao pata in ; and rampe in and .
In Southeast Asia, pandan leaves are mainly used in sweets such as and . In and , pandan is also added to and dishes such as . In the , pandan leaves are commonly paired with coconut meat (a combination referred to as buko pandan) in various desserts and drinks like and .
In , the leaf is added whole to , a kind of rice , made with ordinary rice (as opposed to that made with the premium-grade rice). The basis for this use is that both basmati and pandan leaf contains the same aromatic flavoring ingredient, . In , pandan leaves are a major ingredient used in the country's cuisine.
(also spelled Kevda or Kevada) is an extract distilled from the pandan flower, used to flavor drinks and desserts in Indian cuisine. Also, kewra or kevada is used in religious worship, and the leaves are used to make hair ornaments worn for their fragrance as well as decorative purpose in western India.
Species with large and medium fruit are edible, notably the many cultivated forms of (P. pulposus) and . The fruit is eaten raw or cooked. Small-fruited pandanus may be bitter and astringent.
Throughout , almost every part of the plant is used, with various species different from those used in cooking. Pandanus trees provide materials for housing; and including the manufacture of (carrying bags), fine mats or ; ,, ,, , and .
Note: several species previously placed in Pandanus subgenus Acrostigma are now in the distinct genus .
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- photos and text by Dave Kimble
- - photo essay
- Article by Shannon Wianecki describing Hawaiian cultural uses for pandanus. Volume 15 Number. 1 (Jan 2011).