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(Screw-Pine family)


This is a family of trees, shrubs and lianes in 3 genera found in the Old World tropics. The genus Pandanus Parkinson accounts for about 600 species; Freycinetia Gaudich. accounts for about 75 species; and Sararanga Hemsley accounts for 2 species (Mabberley 1987). The Veitch screw-pine (Pandanus veitchii) and some other species may occasionally be found in cultivation as house- or greenhouse plants.

Aplin (1981) noted that calcium oxalate needle crystals (raphides) are found in certain members of this family and that this represents a dermatological hazard.

[Summary yet to be added]

Freycinetia arborea Gaudich.
[syns Freycinetia arnottii Gaudich., Freycinetia longispica Martelli, Freycinetia scandens Hook. & Arn.]
Screw Pine, ʻIeʻie

This species is found throughout the Hawaiian Islands in the forest. The shiny green leaves are pointed at their ends and spiny along their edges and on the lower side of the midrib. The plants may be found trailing on the ground in great masses forming impenetrable jungles (Menninger 1967).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]

Pandanus Parkinson
Screw Pine

Eating the fruits caused sore lips and blistered tongue; boiled fruits were innocuous (Cleland 1925).

Pandanus tectorius Parkinson ex Du Roi
[syns Pandanus chamissonis Gaudich., Pandanus odoratissimus auct. non L.f., Pandanus veitchii Mast. & T.Moore]
Hala Tree, Screw Pine, Tahitian Screwpine, Thatch Screwpine, Veitch Screwpine, Pandanuspalme, Baquois

This species and its hundreds of cultivated varieties is of immense cultural, health, and economic importance in the Pacific. Carefully selected cultivars are grown for their edible fruit ("keys"), these containing low levels of calcium oxalate crystals. The fruit of wild forms contains high levels, sufficient to irritate the mouth unless broken down by cooking (Thomson et al. 2006). Kewra water is a watery extract distilled from the flowers for use in flavoring meats, desserts and drinks.

The leaves bear marginal prickles; this can make the plants problematical if grown in containers in confined spaces or in public areas; the trunks are often spiny (Thomson et al. 2006). Standley (1937a) also referred to the spine-like teeth on the margins of the leaves.


  • Aplin TEH (1981) Plants that cause dermatitis. Australasian Journal of Dermatology 22(1): 33-35 [doi] [url] [url-2] [pmid]
  • Behl PN, Captain RM, Bedi BMS, Gupta S (1966) Skin-Irritant and Sensitizing Plants Found in India. New Delhi: PN Behl [WorldCat]
  • Cleland JB (1925) Plants, including fungi, poisonous or otherwise injurious to man in Australia. Medical Journal of Australia ii(15): 443-451 [doi] [doi-2] [url] [url-2]
  • Mabberley DJ (1987) The Plant-Book. A portable dictionary of the higher plants. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Menninger EA (1967) Fantastic Trees. New York: Viking Press [WorldCat] [url]
  • Standley PC (1937a) Flora of Costa Rica, Part I. Publications of the Field Museum of Natural History, Botanical Series 18: 5-398 [url] [url-2]
  • Thomson LAJ, Englberger L, Guarino L, Thaman RR, Elevitch CR (2006) Pandanus tectorius (pandanus). In: Elevitch CR (Ed.) Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry. Permanent Agriculture Resources (PAR). Hōlualoa, Hawai‘i. [online article]: https://www.agroforestry.net/images/pdfs/P.tectorius-pandanus.pdf ; accessed January 2022 [url]

Richard J. Schmidt

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