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Pandanus utilis Bory

Voy. îles Afrique 2: 3 (1804).
Chromosome number
2n = 60
Vinsonia utilis (Bory) Gaudich. (1841).
Vernacular names
Common screw pine (En). Vacoa, baquois, vaquois (Fr). Pandano (Po). Mkadi (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
The origin of Pandanus utilis has long been considered to be Madagascar, but more recently it has been suggested that it may have originated in the Mascarene Islands. It has been in cultivation for at least 200 years and is known to be grown in Senegal, Benin, Tanzania, Madagascar, Réunion and Mauritius. It has been introduced to many tropical and subtropical regions, mainly as an ornamental, e.g. in Central America, the Caribbean, the United States (southern Florida, Puerto Rico), Brazil, India and Indonesia. No wild populations are known.
The leaves of Pandanus utilis are used, mainly in Madagascar, Réunion and Mauritius, for thatching and for the production of ropes, baskets, mats, hats, place mats and nets. They can also be used to make paper. In Mauritius and Réunion, sugar bags were made from the leaves. The aerial roots have been used for tying and in the production of baskets, mats and hats, and their ends to make coarse brushes for whitewashing.
The fruits form a starchy food, palatable after cooking. Cooked male inflorescences are also eaten and are considered to have aphrodisiac properties. Root decoctions are taken against venereal diseases. In Réunion, Pandanus utilis trees are used as support for vanilla (Vanilla planifolia Andrews). The trees serve as windbreaks mainly along the shore. Pandanus utilis is a well-known ornamental in many tropical and subtropical regions. In temperate parts of the United States and Europe young Pandanus utilis are grown as indoor foliage plants.
Production and international trade
No data on production or trade are available. In Mauritius the expanding tourist industry provides considerable demand for local handicraft products based on Pandanus utilis and other fibre yielding plants, such as Furcraea foetida (L.) Haw. and Phoenix dactylifera L.
The leaves of young unbranched trees are suitable for the production of bags, mats etc. because they are long and supple, whereas the leaves of older, branched trees are too short and rigid.
Dioecious small- to medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall, with a smooth, branched trunk and many pale brown basal aerial roots 2.5–7.5 cm in diameter; branches with annular leaf scars. Leaves arranged spirally in 3 series, crowded towards the top of stems, simple, without petiole but with broad clasping base, linear, up to 2 m long, but shorter on old trees, 3–11 cm broad, tapering in a long point at apex, margins and ribs beneath reddish-brown with many sharp, ascending, reddish, 1–4 mm long spines, stiff, erect, with many parallel longitudinal veins. Inflorescence unisexual; male inflorescence a branched spadix 30–80 cm long, in the axil of a pale spathe; female inflorescence a subglobose head of densely crowded ovaries. Flowers unisexual, without perianth; male flowers odorous, with 8–12 stamens inserted pseudo-umbellately on slender columnal excrescences 10–15 mm long; female flowers with 3–8-celled ovary crowned by a sessile stigma. Fruit a dome-shaped, compressed, angular drupe arranged in a pendulous, long-peduncled, subglobose syncarp 15–20 cm in diameter, consisting of up to 200 drupes, each up to 3.5 cm × 4 cm × 2 cm, yellow when ripe, upper half free, base with a purple or red band; pyrene 3–8-celled, containing several seeds. Seeds endospermous, retained within the endocarp.
Other botanical information
Pandanus includes about 600 species and is found from West Africa eastward to Madagascar, the Indian Ocean islands, India and most of warmer South-East Asia and Pacific islands. Over 100 Pandanus species have been reported from Madagascar, and some 25 species from mainland Africa. Pandanus utilis belongs to the section Vinsonia.
Transverse sections of stems of Pandanaceae can be distinguished from those of other monocotyledons by the frequent presence of compound vascular bundles, consisting of 2 or 3 conducting strands enclosed by a common bundle sheath. The phloem parts of the separate strands are oriented towards each other, which means that only 1 strand has the normal orientation. As in other species of the section Vinsonia, the leaves of Pandanus utilis have a spongy tissue with abundant fibres in bundles; these bundles may contain over 150 fibres.
Growth and development
Seed germination is slow and takes 2–3 months at a soil temperature of at least 27°C.
Pandanus utilis is salt tolerant and grows well near the sea. In Réunion it is especially common near the coast.
Propagation and planting
Pandanus utilis can be propagated by seeds, but these are recalcitrant. Pre-soaking of the seeds for 24 hours before sowing is recommended for Pandanus in general. The seeds should not be covered with soil. Propagation by stem cuttings and suckers is also possible. In Réunion, planting in April or May at spacings of 1.5–3 m is recommended.
Pruning and shaping should be done with care, as branches do not have dormant buds. When the terminal growing area is cut off, the branch will not grow further.
In Réunion, harvesting of leaves starts when plants are 3–4 years old, and may continue for about 20 years.
Genetic resources
No germplasm collections of Pandanus utilis are known. The genetic diversity of the cultivated plants is unknown and deserves more attention in the absence of natural populations.
The importance of Pandanus utilis in Africa will remain limited, but its combined use as a fibre plant and windbreak in coastal regions may offer some prospects. The niche market for handicraft products made from Pandanus utilis may grow with increasing tourism to countries such as Mauritius.
Major references
• de Cordemoy, E.J., 1895. Flore de l’île de la Réunion (Phanérogames, Cryptogames vasculaires, Muscinées), avec l’indication des propriétés economiques et industrielles des plantes. Paul Klincksieck, Paris, France. 574 pp.
• Little, E.L., Woodbury, R.O. & Wadsworth, F.H., 1974. Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Volume 2. Agriculture Handbook No 449. United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, United States. 1024 pp.
• Stone, B.C., 1970. Observations on the genus Pandanus in Madagascar. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 63: 97–131.
• Stone, B.C., 1973. A synopsis of the African species of Pandanus. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 60(2): 260–272.
• Stone, B.C., 1974. Towards an improved infrageneric classification in Pandanus (Pandanaceae). Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik, Pflanzengeschichte und Pflanzengeographie 94(4): 459–540.
• Stone, B.C., 1991. Pandanus Parkinson. In: Verheij, E.W.M. & Coronel, R.E. (Editors). Plant resources of South-East Asia No 2. Edible fruits and nuts. Pudoc, Wageningen, the Netherlands. 446 pp. (pp. 240–243).
• Vaughan, R.E. & Wiehe, P.O., 1953. The genus Pandanus in the Mascarene Islands. Journal of The Linnean Society – Botany 55: 1–32.
Other references
• Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink Jr, R.C., 1963–1968. Flora of Java. Wolters-Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands. Volume 1 (1963) 647 pp., Volume 2 (1965) 641 pp., Volume 3 (1968) 761 pp. (Volume 3, pp. 201–206).
• Bailey, L.H., 1947. Pandanus. In: Bailey, L.H. (Editor). The standard cyclopedia of horticulture. 3 volumes. The MacMillan Company, New York, United States. 3639 pp. (pp. 2449–2451).
• Bailey, L.H., 1951. Manual of cultivated plants most commonly grown in the continental United States and Canada. MacMillan Publishing Co., New York, United States. 1116 pp.
• Bailey, L.H. & Bailey, E.Z., 1976. Hortus third. A concise dictionary of plants cultivated in the United States and Canada. MacMillan Publishing Co., New York, United States. 1290 pp.
• Balfour, I.B., 1877. Pandaneae. In: Baker, J.G. (Editor). Flora of Mauritius and the Seychelles: a description of the flowering plants and ferns of those islands. L. Reeve & Co., London, United Kingdom. 557 pp. (pp. 398–399).
• Beentje, H.J., 1993. Pandanaceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 9 pp.
• Berhaut, J., 1967. Flore du Sénégal. 2nd edition. Editions Clairafrique, Dakar, Senegal. 485 pp.
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Cheah, C.H. & Stone, B.C., 1973. Chromosome studies of the genus Pandanus (Pandanaceae). Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik, Pflanzengeschichte und Pflanzengeographie 93(4): 498–529.
• Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1948–1976. The wealth of India: a dictionary of Indian raw materials & industrial products. 11 volumes. Publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi, India. (volume 7: pp. 220–221)
• de Souza, S., 1987. Flore du Bénin. Volume 1. Catalogue des plantes du Bénin. Université Nationale du Bénin, Cotonou, Benin. 81 pp.
• Hanelt, P. & Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (Editors), 2001. Mansfeld’s encyclopedia of agricultural and horticultural crops (except ornamentals). 1st English edition. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Germany. 3645 pp.
• Huxley, A. (Editor), 1992. The new Royal Horticultural Society dictionary of gardening. Volume 3. The MacMillan Press, London, United Kingdom. 790 pp.
• Huynh, K.-L., 1977. L’appareil mâle de quelques Pandanus du sous-genre Vinsonia (Pandanaceae) et sa signification taxonomique, phylogénique et évolutive. Beiträge zur Biologie der Pflanzen 53(3): 447–471.
• Huynh, K.-L., 1979. La morphologie microscopique de la feuille et la taxonomie du genre Pandanus. VI. P. subg. Vinsonia et P. subg. Martellidendron. 2. Considérations sur P. subg. Vinsonia. Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik, Pflanzengeschichte und Pflanzengeographie 100(4): 473–517.
• Miguet, J.-M., 1955. Boisement et régéneration de forêts reliques en zone tropicale humide: les forêts de Saint-Philippe a la Réunion. Revue Forestière Française 7(3): 187–200.
• Pilonchéry, A., 1999. L’île de la Réunion et la culture de la vanille. Bulletin mensuel de la Société linnéenne de Lyon 68(5): 96–99.
• Purseglove, J.W., 1972. Tropical crops. Monocotyledons. Volume 2. Longman, London, United Kingdom. 273 pp.
• Stone, B.C., 1983. A guide to collecting Pandanaceae (Pandanus, Freycinetia, and Sararanga). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 70: 137–145.
• Zimmermann, M.H., Tomlinson, P.B. & LeClaire, J., 1974. Vascular construction and development in the stems of certain Pandanaceae. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 68(1): 21–41.
Sources of illustration
• Kerner von Marilaun, A., 1887. Pflanzenleben. Volume 1. Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig, Germany & Vienna, Germany. (p. 715).
• Little, E.L., Woodbury, R.O. & Wadsworth, F.H., 1974. Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Volume 2. Agriculture Handbook No 449. United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, United States. 1024 pp.
M. Brink
PROSEA Publication Office, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands

L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands
Associate Editors
S.D. Davis
Centre for Economic Botany, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AE, United Kingdom
M. Chauvet
INRA Communication, 2 Place Viala, 34060 Montpellier, Cedex 1, France
J.S. Siemonsma
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands
W. Wessel-Brand
Biosystematics Group, Wageningen University, Generaal Foulkesweg 37, 6703 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2002. Pandanus utilis Bory. Record from Protabase. Oyen, L.P.A. & Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, the Netherlands.
Distribution Map Pandanus utilis – planted

1, plant habit; 2, leaf; 3, fruiting head; 4, fruit
Redrawn and adapted by W. Wessel-Brand