In fact, they look like palm trees, with long, thick, dark-green leathery leaves, shaped like swords.
Some varieties of screw pine are cultivated for their fruit, which is edible. Some are cultivated for their flowers and fragrant leaves. The fibre from the leaves is strong enough to make sails for small boats from.
Depending on the variety, a screw pine tree can be 1 to 20 metres tall (3 to 65 feet). As a screw pine tree grows, the leaves spiral up around the tree’s central stem.
The trees will be either male or female.
Two varieties, Pandanus odoratissimus and Pandanus amaryllifolius, have particular culinary uses.
Pandanus odoratissimus (aka Pandanus fascicularis, Pandanus tectorius) has flowers that are used in making screw pine essence (and from that, screw pine water,) The leaves of the same variety are eaten as a vegetable in China when very young, but past that, they are too fibrous and so are used as a source of making in making household goods such as baskets and mats. This variety is sometimes referred to as “Tahitian screw pine.”
Note: some sources distinguish Pandanus tectorius from Pandanus odoratissimus.
Native to southern India.
Called “Ketakiphul ” in Bengali.