Pandanus is a genus of monocots with about 600 known species. Plants vary in size from small shrubs less than 1 m tall, up to medium-sized trees 20 m tall, typically with a broad canopy and moderate growth rate. 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. The leaves are strap-shaped, varying between species from 30 cm up to 2 m or more long, and from 1.5 cm up to 10 cm broad.
They are dioecious, with male and female flowers produced on different plants. The flowers of the male tree are 2-3 cm long and fragrant, surrounded by narrow, white bracts. The female tree produces flowers with round fruits that are also bract-surrounded. The fruits are globose, 10 to 20 cm 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 fruit of some species are edible. 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.
Pandan is also used for handicraft.The craftswomen are collecting 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. Later the weavers will produce basic pandan mats of standard size or roll the leaves into pandan ropes for other designs. This is followed by the coloring process, in which the pandan mats are placed in drums with water-based colors. After drying the colored mats are shaped into the final product, for instance a place mat or a jewelry box. Final color touch ups are applied to assure a product of high quality. The whole process from harvesting of raw materials to finished product is handled by the craftswomen making this a truly community-based handicraft product.
"Kewra" is extract distilled from the Pandanus flower, used to flavour drinks and desserts in Indian cuisine.
Pandan is said to be a restorative, deodorant, indolent and phylactic, promoting a feeling of wellbeing and acting as a counter to tropical lassitude. It may be chewed as a breath sweetener or used as a preservative on foods. It is also said to have flavonoids which are believed to have a variety of healthful properties, including antiviral, anti-allergen, antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant.
Cockroaches tend to dislike the smell of pandan leaves. In Asia, a car infested with cockroaches can generally be rid of the cockroaches by leaving a handful of fresh pandan leaves overnight in the vehicle.Vernacular names
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