Pandanus dubius: Knob-fruited screwpine

Family: Pandanaceae
Common name: Bakong, Pahong, Knob-fruited screwpine

Very closely related to palm plants, this species of Pandanus is very beautiful and unique. Small plants look like rosettes with broad leaves that have creases like an origami paper that’s opened after creasing. Leaves are 4-6 inches wide, dark glossy green and have small serrations along the edges. Once the plants grow, they lose the lower leaves and develop a scarred and mangled-looking trunk, that later grows aerial and prop roots to help the plant stay upright.

The upright leaves in younger plants also fold down in the older plants partially covering the trunk. Typically growing wild in beaches and rocky area, these plants are now grown in gardens as ornamental plants. They produce fruits that look like custard apples, but with more pronounced spikes; and are edible.

The broad, thick and waterproof leaves are used for weaving mats;. They are also used in wrapping fish and tapioca for baking; thatching huts, making umbrellas, and for curing tobacco by wrapping in them. The leaves can be made pliable by heating them. Fibers from prop roots are used for weaving baskets and chairs; and also for making threads and ropes.

Pandanus plants can grow to a height of 10-20 meters, and are either male or female plants. Male plants produce flowers to pollinate the female ones, which then produce fruits. Pandanus plants produce small plants around the top edge of the trunk, which can be cut off carefully and planted as new plants.

Propagation is through seeds or by planting the small plants that grow on the trunk.

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