|Fruit of Pandanus utilis|
Pandanus is a genus of monocots with some 750 accepted species. They are palm-like, dioecious trees and shrubs native to the Old World tropics and subtropics. Common names include pandan (//), screw palm, and screw pine. They are classified in the order Pandanales, family Pandanaceae.
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 stilt 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, 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 dioecious, with male and female flowers 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 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 multiple fruit, a globule structure, 10–20 cm (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. 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 coconut 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 'stilt roots' as anchors in the loose sand. Those stilt 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 Polynesia and Micronesia. 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 bats, rats, crabs, and elephants, 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 uses
Pandanus leaves are used for handicrafts. 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 Pandanus amaryllifolius are used widely in Southeast Asian and South Asian cuisines to add a distinct aroma to various dishes and to complement flavors like chocolate. Because of their similarity in usage, pandan leaves are sometimes referred to as the "vanilla 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 Indonesian and Malay; dahon ng pandan (lit. "pandan leaf") or simply pandan in Filipino; 斑蘭 (bān lán) in Mandarin; as ใบเตย (bai toei; pronounced [bāj.tœ̄j]) in Thai, lá dứa in Vietnamese; pulao pata in Bengali; and rampe in Sinhalese and Hindi.
In Southeast Asia, pandan leaves are mainly used in sweets such as coconut jam and pandan cake. In Indonesia and Malaysia, pandan is also added to rice and curry dishes such as nasi lemak. In the Philippines, pandan leaves are commonly paired with coconut meat (a combination referred to as buko pandan) in various desserts and drinks like maja blanca and gulaman.
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 contains the same aromatic flavoring ingredient, 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline. In Sri Lanka, pandan leaves are a major ingredient used in the country's cuisine.
Kewra (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. tectorius (P. pulposus) and P. utilis. The fruit is eaten raw or cooked. Small-fruited pandanus may be bitter and astringent.
Karuka nuts (P. julianettii) are an important staple food in New Guinea. Over 45 cultivated varieties are known. Entire households will move, and in some areas will speak a pandanus language at harvest time. The taste is like coconut or walnuts.
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; sails, food, medication, decorations, fishing, and religious uses.
Note: several species previously placed in Pandanus subgenus Acrostigma are now in the distinct genus Benstonea.
- Pandanus aldabraensis H.St.John
- Pandanus amaryllifolius Roxb. ex Lindl. – pandan
- Pandanus balfourii Martelli
- Pandanus barkleyi Balf.f.
- Pandanus boninensis Warb.
- Pandanus candelabrum P.Beauv.
- Pandanus carmichaelii R.E.Vaughan & Wiehe
- Pandanus ceylanicus Solms
- Pandanus christmatensis Martelli
- Pandanus clandestinus Stone
- Pandanus conglomeratus Balf.f.
- Pandanus conoideus Lam.
- Pandanus decastigma B.C.Stone
- Pandanus decipiens Martelli
- Pandanus decumbens Solms
- Pandanus drupaceus Thou.
- Pandanus elatus Ridl.
- Pandanus eydouxia Balf.f.
- Pandanus fanningensis H.St.John
- Pandanus forsteri C.Moore & F.Muell.
- Pandanus furcatus Roxb.
- Pandanus gabonensis Huynh
- Pandanus glaucocephalus R.E.Vaughan & Wiehe
- Pandanus halleorum B.C.Stone
- Pandanus heterocarpus Balf.f.
- Pandanus iceryi Horne ex Balf.f.
- Pandanus incertus R.E.Vaughan & Wiehe
- Pandanus joskei Horne ex Balf.f.
- Pandanus julianettii Martelli - karuka
- Pandanus kaida Kurz
- Pandanus kajui Beentje
- Pandanus lacuum H.St.John ex B.C.Stone
- Pandanus laxespicatus Martelli
- Pandanus livingstonianus Rendle - Tropical Africa
- Pandanus microcarpus Balf.f.
- Pandanus montanus Bory
- Pandanus multispicatus Balf.f.
- Pandanus odorifer (Forssk.) Kuntze
- Pandanus palustris Thou.
- Pandanus parvicentralis Huynh
- Pandanus prostratus Balf.f.
- Pandanus pyramidalis Barkly ex Balf.f.
- Pandanus rigidifolius R.E.Vaughan & Wiehe
- Pandanus sechellarum Balf.f.
- Pandanus spathulatus Martelli
- Pandanus spiralis R.Br. – Australian screwpine
- Pandanus tectorius Parkinson ex Du Roi – thatch screwpine
- Pandanus tenuifolius Balf f.
- Pandanus teuszii Warb.
- Pandanus thomensis Henriq.
- Pandanus tonkinensis B.C.Stone
- Pandanus utilis Bory – common screwpine
- Pandanus vandermeeschii Balf.f.
- Pandanus verecundus Stone
- Domesticated plants and animals of Austronesia
- Psychedelic plants
- Wa - vessels of the Caroline Islands which traditionally had pandanus mat sails
- Screw pine craft of Kerala
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As of 1973, all canoes on Satawal were using dacron sails sewn by the men themselves. Most Carolinian canoes had used canvas acquired during the Japanese presence in the islands. The people of Satawal, however, were reluctant to switch from the cumbersome pandanus-mat sails, probably because canoes and voyaging were included in the elaborate pre-Christian taboo system. Christianity took hold on Satawal during the decades after World War II, and the Islanders then used canvas. When I and Gary Mount, as Peace Corps volunteers, demonstrated the obvious superiority of dacron over canvas with only a 4-inch square sample, the men agreed to purchase sails for the canoes of the island. As word of the superiority of dacron spread, the people of Ifalik, Elato, Woleai, Pulusuk, Pulap and Puluwat have equipped at least one canoe on each island with dacron.
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- Pandanus species of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Australia photos and text by Dave Kimble
- Pneumatophores on Pandanus solms-laubachii - photo essay
- Northernmost pandanus in the world, in the Azores Islands, photo.
- Pandanus simplex fruit eaten by Varanus olivaceus, Polillo Island, Philippines.
- "Hala: The Hawaiian Aphrodisiac" Article by Shannon Wianecki describing Hawaiian cultural uses for pandanus. Maui No Ka 'Oi Magazine Volume 15 Number. 1 (Jan 2011).
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