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File:Pandanus utilis fruit.JPG
Fruit of Pandanus utilis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Pandanales
Family: Pandanaceae
Genus: Pandanus

See text

Pandanus, screw pine, or Pandan (/ˈpændən/)[1] is a genus of monocots with about 600 known species.[2] They are palm-like, dioecious trees and shrubs native to the Old World tropics and subtropics. They are classified in the order Pandanales, family Pandanaceae.[3][4]


Often called pandanus palms, these plants are not closely related to palm trees. The species vary in size from small shrubs less than 1 metre (3.3 ft) tall, to medium-sized trees 20 metres (66 ft) tall, typically with a broad canopy, heavy fruit, and moderate growth rate.[5] The trunk is stout, wide-branching, and ringed with many leaf scars. 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 adventitious and often branched. The top of the plant has one or more crowns of strap-shaped leaves that may be spiny,[3][4] varying between species from 30 centimetres (12 in) to 2 metres (6.6 ft) or longer, and from 1.5 centimetres (0.59 in) up to 10 centimetres (3.9 in) broad.

They are dioecious, with male and female flowers produced on different plants. The flowers of the male tree are 2–3 centimetres (0.79–1.18 in) long and fragrant, surrounded by narrow, white bracts. The female tree produces flowers with round fruits that are also bract-surrounded. The individual fruit is a drupe, and these merge to varying degrees forming a multiple fruit, a globose structure, 10–20 centimetres (3.9–7.9 in) in diameter, and have many prism-like sections, resembling the fruit of the pineapple. Typically, the fruit changes from green to bright orange or red as it matures. Pandanus fruit are eaten by animals including bats, rats, crabs, elephants and monitor lizards, but the vast majority of species are dispersed primarily by water.[6]


These plants grow from sea level to 3,300 m. Pandanus trees are of cultural, health, and economic importance in the Pacific, second only to coconut on atolls.[7][8] They grow wild mainly in semi­natural 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 also are widely propagated from branch cuttings by local people.[3] It grows fairly and quickly.[7][9] The genus is native to most of the tropical islands.[10] Three species of screwpine are commonly found in Maldives. Species with large and medium fruit are edible. Pandanus is one of the iconic tree genera of the New South Wales north coast.[11]

Species growing on exposed coastal headlands and along beaches have thick 'prop roots' as anchors in the loose sand.[3][12] 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.[13] Some species of Pandanus trees can grow up to 6 m high. They have long, narrow leaves, which grow in spirals on the plants' stems. As the plants grow, the leaves drop off, leaving 'scars' on the stems.[10] In some species of Pandanus, the fruits look a bit like a woody pineapple. They hang from the branches, and can stay on the tree for more than 12 months. Mature plants can have branches.[10] The trunk is covered with smooth, mottled bark. The roots forms a pyramidal tract to hold the trunk.[6]

While all pandanus are distributed in the tropical Pacific islands, they are most numerous on the low islands and barren atolls of Polynesia and Micronesia.[2][14][15][16] The tree is grown and propagated from shoots that form spontaneously in the axils of lower leaves. Its fruit can float and spread to other islands without help from man. Other species are adapted to mountain habitats and riverine forests.[17]

Cultivation and uses

Pandan is used for handicrafts. Craftsmen collect the pandan leaves from plants in the wild. Only the young leaves are cut so the plant will naturally regenerate. The young leaves are sliced in 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 place mats or jewelry boxes. Final color touch-ups may be applied.

Pandan (P. amaryllifolius) leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking to add a distinct aroma to rice and curry dishes such as nasi lemak, kaya ('jam') preserves, and desserts such as pandan cake. In Indian cooking, the leaf is added whole to biryani, a kind of rice pilaf, made with ordinary rice (as opposed to that made with the premium-grade Basmati rice). The basis for this use is that both Basmati and Pandan leaf contain the same aromatic flavoring ingredient, 2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline. Pandan leaf can be used as a complement to chocolate in many dishes, such as ice cream. They are known as daun pandan in Indonesian and Malay; 斑蘭 (bān lán) in Mandarin; ဆူးေမႊးရြက္ (su mwei ywe) in Myanmar, and as ใบเตย (bai toei; pronounced [bāj.tœ̄j]) in Thailand. 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.

Kewra is an extract distilled from the pandanus flower, used to flavor drinks and desserts in Indian cuisine. Also, kewra or kewadaa 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.[2]

Throughout Oceania, almost every part of the plant is used, with various species different from those used in Southeast Asian cooking. Pandanus trees provide materials for housing; clothing and textiles including the manufacture of dilly bags (carrying bags), fine mats or ‘ie toga; food, medication,[citation needed] decorations, fishing, and religious uses.

Selected species

See also

Further reading


  1. "JOBS- Assistant Botanist (Palms and Pandans) at RBG (Kew)". European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy. 2009. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares: (especies ... - Ginés A. López González - Google Libros. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 David C. Hyndman (1984). "Ethnobotany of Wopkaimin Pandanus significant Papua New Guinea plant resource". Economic Botany 38 (3): 287–303. doi:10.1007/BF02859007. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harold St. John (1968). "Revision of the genus Pandanus Stickman, part 29. New Papuan species in the section Microstigma collected by C. E. Carr" (PDF). Pacific Science 22 (4): 514–519. hdl:10125/12577. 
  5. "Pandanus Trees in Australia". Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 R. E. Vaughan & P. O. Wiehe (1953). "The genus Pandanus in the Mascarene Islands". Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Botany 55 (356): 1–33. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.1953.tb00001.x. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Pandanus tectorius (pandanus)" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  8. "pandanus - definition of pandanus by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Outlines of the geography of plants: with particular enquiries concerning ... - Franz Julius Ferdinand Meyen - Google Libros. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  11. "Environment & Heritage | Pandanus trees and the threat of dieback - Publication". 2011-02-27. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  12. "Microsoft Word - 5-Seychelles formaté_RM.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  13. Ugolino Martelli (1908). "The Philippine species of Pandanus". Philippine Journal of Science 3 (2): 59–72. 
  14. Semanario pintoresco espańol - Ramón de Mesonero Romanos, Gervasio Gironella, Vicente Castelló, Angel Fernández de los Ríos, Francisco Navarro Villoslada, Manuel de Assas y de Ereńo, José Muńos Maldonado, Eduardo Gasset y Artime - Google Libros. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  15. Lecciones de historia natural: Botбnica - Agustнn Yбсez y Girona - Google Libros. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  16. Benjamin C. Stone (1992). "The New Guinea species of Pandanus section Maysops St. Johns (Pandanaceae)". Blumea 37 (1): 31–61. 
  17. "West Papua - Mining". Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  18. Pandanus odoratus Thunb.
  19. IUCN Pandanus odorifer

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