Where seen? With long prickly leaves, this plant is hard
to ignore when you are trying to push your way through vegetation
near the shore. It is still commonly seen on undisturbed shores and
back mangroves. In the past, it was common along sandy shores in many
parts of Singapore. It is probably the most widespread Pandanus
species, being cultivated for its many uses. It is found on all
tropical shores and throughout Southeast Asia. Its old name P.
odoratissimus is an accepted synonym.
Features: A prickly tall bush
(2-3m) to a small tree (3-14m tall), widely branching sometimes with
several trunks which can be spiny. Often with stilt roots around the
stem. Also emerging from the stems, aerial roots with 'warts' and
large root ‘caps’.
Leaves long, strap-like (70cm-2.5m) with pointed tip and sharp wicked
spines along the sides and midrib on the underside, leaves arranged
in a spiral. Shiny green upperside, dull on the underside. Dead leaves
hang down like a skirt and eventually fall away.
According to Little, male and female plants have different structures.
Trunks of male trees are hard and solid throughout. The timber is
yellow, strong and difficult to split. Trunks of female trees have
a hard outer part, but soft inner pith. In fact, the trunks of female
trees have used as water pipes after removal of the pith.
The male flowers form a pendulous ‘cone’ (25-60cm) comprising many
small flowers. Around the male flowers are yellow-white leaflets that
produce a pleasant smell. The female flowers emerge as compact greenish
egg-shaped heads with pistils densely crowded with colored scales.
Each fruit (4-20cm wide, 8-30cm long), hard and fibrous, containing
usually 5-11 seeds. The fruits form an egg-shaped compound fruit that
looks like a pineapple. Green ripening orange. The fruits float and
can remain viable for a long time as they disperse with the sea. Some
accounts suggest animals also disperse the seeds of those varieties
with sweet pulp.
Human uses: According to Burkill, many varieties are widely
cultivated for various purposes. Each cultivated variety has different
uses, e.g., for making mats, for the fruits and so on. Up to 28 varieties
of this plant have been described. It is important to traditional
coastal dwellers particularly in the Pacific.
The leaves are widely used to make matting, bags. To prepare the leaves
for weaving into mats, they are first split down the midle to remove
the spiny midrib, then cut into strips by dragging them over a board
with brass spikes in it. The strips are softened by pulling them over
a bamboo and pounding them withe a pestle, then soaked for three days
with changes in water. The strips are then bleached in the sun before
they are woven into mats, cords, sugar bags, hats and in the past,
even boat sails.
The sweet smelling male flowers are used by women in their hair or
to prepare scented oils. Medicinal uses include using the young leaves
as an antidote for poisoning.
grow into a tall tree!
Pulau Semakau, May 07
Pulau Semakau, Oct 05
fruit that resembles a pineapple.
Pulau Semakau, May 07
a green gloobular cone.
Lazarus, Apr 12
tiny white in a long cone.
Pulau Semakau, Mar 09
pandan on Singapore shores