Pandanus amaryllifolius/odorus (Fragrant Pandan/Screwpine, Pandan Leaf/Leaves)
is one of those long-domesticated plants and is the only Pandanus species with fragrant leaves. Our backyard garden is never without this essential plant!
Like the Murraya Koenigii commonly known as Curry Leaf/Leaves, its fragrant pandan leaves are very much needed in our Malaysian cooking and I can’t do without it! :)
They’re popularly used for adding fragrance in desserts, cakes, rice (especially ‘nasi lemak‘, one of our favourite meal), etc. For added flavour too, they can be used as wrappers for meat and seafood for frying, baking, grilling or steaming.
Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :
- Botanical Name: Pandanus amaryllifolius (syn: Pandanus odorus)
- Common Name: Fragrant Pandan, Fragrant Screwpine, Pandan Leaf/Leaves, Daun Pandan (Malaysia/Indonesia), Bai Toey (Thailand)
- Family name: Pandanaceae (Screwpine family)
- Origin: Probably originated from Moluccas, Indonesia. Widely cultivated in tropical Asia, namely, Sri Landa, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines. Ref: USDA, ARS-GRIN and Gernot Katzer’s Spice Page.
- Plant type: Indoor and outdoor foliage or shrub; Fragrant herb plant
- Features: Pandanus amaryllifolius, the only species with fragrant leaves of the genus, Pandanus, grows between 0.5 to 1 m tall but can reach up to 2 m in height. As the perennial plant ages and lower leaves are trimmed for culinary purposes, it becomes top-heavy and produces aerial roots and stilt roots to support itself from falling.
Foliage is evergreen with slender leaves that are lush-green and smooth-edged measuring roughly 30-50cm long. Their leaves have a depressed center running from the axis outwards and gradually flatten towards their tips.
It produces suckers laterally and abundantly, especially if grown on the ground with good conditions and these can be used to propagate new plants. Sometimes, it does develop aerial plantlets too.
- Culture (Care): P. amaryllifolius is an easy to grow herb that requires very little care, especially in the tropics.
Light: Prefers semi-shade to full sun, though protection from the strong afternoon sun is advisable to avoid foliage being scorched.
Moisture: Require regular watering and humid environment for best growth.
Soil: Grows well in any kind of well-drained soil in container or ground.
Others: Remove dried or wilted leaves. If necessary, prune the top section if the plant becomes lanky and top-heavy…. the tip cutting, together with its couple of aerial roots can be replanted to rejuvenate its growth while the remaining leafless stem with roots anchored in the soil can be left growing with some care which will eventually develop aerial offshoots for multiplying your stock. Feed fortnightly with a balanced soluble fertilizer. Fragrant Screwpine is least bothered by pests and diseases.
For subtropical and temperate regions: Hardiness: USDA Zone 9-11. P. amaryllifolius or Pandan Leaf is a tropical plant that prefers heat and humidity, hence sensitive to cold frost or too much wind. It is recommended to plant it in containers to easily overwinter indoors and relocate to a covered area in cold non-hardy regions. Water sparingly in winter, mindful not to water the crown to avoid cold water being retained that will result in eventual rot and demise of plant. Best to propagate pandan during the warmer seasons. Read the gardeners’ experiences and care of the Fragrant Pandan at Daleys Fruit Tree Forum.
- Propagation: Propagate by replanting suckers that are formed at base of the parent plant or plantlets with aerial roots that grow at top of plant.
However, suckers or offsets that emerge from the ground are more reliable than aerial plantlets that may fail to propagate if left to mature with hardened aerial roots.
Detach the suckers or plantlets with their roots from the parent plant, remove most of the leaves leaving a few at top and plant them into moist well-drained soil. Water regularly and it’ll add new leaves in no time!
Update: May 1 2011 – learn further from our recent post on how-to propagate Fragrant Pandan.
- Usage: These fragrant pandan leaves with a subtle grassy-nutty flavor are well sought after for their culinary usages, especially in the Asian countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Sri Lanka, as well as Australia. Why not try some tempting pandan recipes to whet your appetitie!
The leaves of P. amaryllifolius are also commercially used as a food-colouring agent, as well as popular as a cockroach repellent and as natural air freshener in homes. And, in Thailand, the fragrant leaves of this edible Pandan are intricately woven into gorgeous roses and used for worship in temples.
Read here at StuartXchange to know more of the uses of Fragrant Screw Pine.
Updated 2008-03-02 – Sharing here is an image of some luxuriant plants of Pandan Leaf or Fragrant Screwpine that are growing in our neighbour’s backyard on the ground. I’ve observed that grounded plants are lusher and produce more suckers, unlike potted plants that are restricted for want of space.
By the way, if you would like to know how this photo frame was done, click here.
Updated 2008-05-09 -
Further notes on Pandan Leaf’s propagation -
These young suckers as seen in the right picture were yanked from my sister-in-law’s dense clump of Pandan Leaves about a month ago. Though only one plant was needed, I potted them together for convenience sake, just in case only one manage to survive. Hmm…not surprising, both thrived and new leaves have emerged. :)
How to propagate – just separate one of the suckers with its roots from the parent plant (either pull with a slight force or use a garden spade). Next, cut away most of the basal leaves and maintain only a few remaining top ones (depending on the size of the plantlet, remove about half the foliage). Then, plant it into moist potting soil with its crown at the same level as it was previously grown. You can even soak the roots about 2 days before planting in the ground or container. Best to first locate it in a shaded or sun-filtered spot. Water moderately.
Last edited: 1 May, 2011