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ShrubbySpecies Plant

Pandanus amaryllifolius

Pandanus amaryllifolius

The pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius Roxb. ex Lindl., 1832) is a shrub species belonging to the Pandanaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Liliopsida,
Subclass Arecidae,
Order Pandanales,
Pandanaceae family,
Genus Pandanus,
Species P. amaryllifolius.
The terms are synonymous:
– Pandanus hasskarlii Merr., 1917;
– Pandanus latifolius Hassk. 1842;
– Pandanus latifolius var. minor Hassk., 1844;
– Pandanus odorus Ridl., 1925.

Etymology –
The term Pandanus comes from the Malay word pandang.
The specific epithet amaryllifolius comes from the combination of the Greek term Ἀμαρυλλίς Amaryllís Amarillide (from ἀμαρύσσω amarýsso shine), proper name of shepherdesses in Greek mythology and in the bucolic poetry of Theocritus, Virgil and Ovid, and from folium leaf: with leaves similar to those of an Amaryllis

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Pandanus amaryllifolius is a tropical plant, a true cultigen, which is believed to have been domesticated in ancient times. It is sterile and can only reproduce vegetatively via suckers or cuttings. It was first described from specimens from the Maluku Islands and the rare presence of male flowers in these specimens may indicate that it is the origin of the species. However, since no other wild specimens have been found, this is still conjecture. The plant is widely cultivated throughout Southeast Asia and South Asia.
The natural habitat of this plant has never been found.

Description –
Pandanus amaryllifolius is a perennial, evergreen shrub or dioecious tree, with branched stems equipped with aerial roots and leaves arranged in a spiral. Two forms of this plant are known, one of small dimensions, which is by far the most cultivated due to its fragrant leaves, and the other of relatively larger dimensions, but with less fragrant leaves.
The first, very branched, has stems up to 1-1.5 m in length and 2-5 cm in diameter, ascending or decumbent, and linear imbricated leaves, 25-65 cm long and 2.5-4 cm wide, keeled , helpless, except at the apex where there are tiny spines, of a shiny intense green color above, more or less glaucous below.
The second, slightly branched, has stems, 2-4 m long and up to 15 cm in diameter, with robust aerial roots that penetrate the soil, and linear leaves, 1.5-2.2 m long and 7-10 m wide. cm, with the same characteristics as the previous one, but less aromatic.
Only male inflorescences are known, rarely produced, of the second form, in the Molucca islands, terminal panicles, about 60 cm long, composed of cylindrical racemes of decreasing length towards the apex surrounded by whitish bracts.

Cultivation –
Pandanus amaryllifolius is an evergreen shrub or tree with fragrant leaves, known in cultivation in two forms.
The female inflorescence, as mentioned, is unknown but on very rare occasions it produces a male inflorescence.
The leaves are widely used as a flavoring throughout Southeast Asia, where they are commonly available in local markets.
The plant is grown for its leaves in the gardens of western Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, New Guinea, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, recently also in Hawaii.
It is also grown as an ornamental plant.
It is a plant that requires a warm-humid climate, its cultivation in open field is therefore limited to tropical and subtropical areas only, an exposure in full sun or slightly shaded and draining soils rich in organic substance kept almost constantly humid. The plants grow easily and generally a single plant is sufficient for family uses. Finally, its ornamental characteristics should not be underestimated as a garden plant, even of small dimensions, and in pots, outdoors where the climate allows it, or in greenhouses, verandas and particularly bright interiors, with minimum temperatures not lower than 15 °C . Watering must be regular, but without stagnation, and fertilization, from spring to autumn, carried out with water-soluble products balanced with microelements. In closed environments it is easily subject to attack by parasites, such as mites and scale insects, and must therefore be kept under control in order to intervene promptly with specific products.
When this plant is abandoned or allowed to develop unhindered, it grows very slowly but will eventually enter the “large” growth phase and develop a sturdy trunk.
The smell of the leaves remains the same in both growth forms.
Harvesting scented pandan can begin about 6 months after planting and can continue for several years.
Individual leaves are cut off, leaving the upper part with 3 – 4 leaves intact.
The branches have no dormant buds and therefore will not sprout if cut into old wood.
A one-hectare plot in the Philippines, with fragrant pandan intercropped with pepper and some fruit trees, was harvested twice a week, producing 60 kg of fresh leaves per harvest, or 6 T/Ha per year.
The plant is obviously reproduced exclusively vegetatively, easily by division of trained plants, using branches equipped with adventitious roots, and through the seedlings that form at the base. It can propagate, with more difficulty, through apical cuttings in a draining substrate with the addition of 50% sand or perlite, kept humid, but without stagnation, placed in a partially shaded position until complete rooting.

Customs and Traditions –
Pandanus amaryllifolius has been known since ancient times for its aromatic leaves that color foods and drinks green.
It has been cultivated since ancient times for the fragrant leaves used to flavor numerous dishes, particularly rice-based, to which it gives a smell and flavor similar to that of prized aromatic varieties, such as ambemohor, basmati and khao hom mali (known as Thai jasmine rice ), sweets and drinks, and to perfume the water used in religious ceremonies.
This plant is known by various common names, among which we remember: dwarf screw pine, fragrant screw pine, scented pandan (English); xiang lu dou (Chinese); pandan-mabango (Filipino); taey (Khmer); tey ban (Laotian); pandan rampai, pandan rampeh, pandan wangi (Malay); ramps (Sinhala); ramba (Tamil); bai toey, paanae wo-nging, toey-hom (Thai); dứa thơm, lá dứa (Vietnamese).
This plant is widely cultivated throughout Southeast Asia and South Asia.
In Bangladesh, it is called Ketaki, along with other varieties of pandanus (Pandanus fascicularis), and is used to enhance the flavor of pulao, biryani and the sweet coconut rice pudding, payesh. It is called pandan wangi in Indonesia, Presto-mhway in Burmese and lá dứa in Vietnamese.
The leaves are used fresh or wilted and can be found frozen in Asian stores in countries where the plant does not grow. They have a nutty fragrance that enhances the flavor of foods from Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Burma, especially rice dishes and cakes.
The leaves are sometimes soaked in coconut milk, which is then added to the dish. The leaves can be tied and cooked with food. They can also be woven into a basket that is used as a container for cooking rice. Pandan cake, or gai ob bai toey, is a Thai dish with chicken wrapped in pandan leaves and fried. The leaves are also used to flavor desserts such as pandanus cake and sweet drinks.
The characteristic aroma of pandan is caused by the aromatic compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline which also gives white bread, jasmine rice and basmati rice their characteristic aromas. In stores you can buy bottled pandanus extract, but it often contains artificial green food coloring.
In India and south-east Asia the leaves of P. amaryllifolius are used to make baskets in which meat, fish and legumes are cooked; to flavor rice, curry and desserts such as pandan cake; it is also used as a home deodorant, as it is also a natural repellent for cockroaches.
The leaves release their maximum aroma about two days after cutting, but lose it when completely dry, and are not consumed, but removed at the end of cooking, and in addition to the aroma they give the food a characteristic green colour. The leaves and the oil extracted from them are used in traditional medicine in various South-East Asian countries for various pathologies. Laboratory studies have highlighted the presence in the leaf extracts of numerous bioactive compounds of possible interest for the official pharmacopoeia, as well as compounds with insect-repellent properties susceptible to further investigations for their possible use.
Among the various uses, it is reported that the aromatic leaves are used for perfume.
Chopped fresh leaves are mixed with the petals of various flowers to make potpourri.
The leaves, however, produce a very small amount of essential oil.
The leaves, as mentioned, can be woven into baskets to make containers for sweets.
The leaves are used to make mats to sleep on.
An extract of the leaves is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a deodorant and masking agent.
The essential oil has insect repellent activity, for example against the common cockroach, Periplaneta Americana.
The powdered leaves can be used as a repellent against Callosobruchus chinensis infestation of mung bean seeds.

Preparation Method –
Pandanus amaryllifolius is a plant that has long been known for its edible, medicinal, etc. uses.
The young, fragrant leaves are cooked and eaten.
They are also often used, both fresh and dried, to season rice, cassava etc., especially in sweet dishes.
The aromatic leaves give food a garlic-like flavor; they are delicious and add a distinctive musky odor and natural green color.
The leaves are also used to wrap other foods, such as rice dumplings.
In the medicinal field it is reported that the leaves are diuretic and cardiotonic.
An infusion is used as a sedative against restlessness and is also a traditional treatment for diabetes.
Externally the leaves are used in the treatment of skin diseases; as a relaxing soak to counteract restlessness.
They are soaked in coconut oil, the oil is then used for rheumatic ailments.
The application of the leaves as an antidiabetic drug appears to be linked to 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, which was isolated from the roots of Pandanus amaryllifolius.
It shows hypoglycemic effects and increases serum insulin levels and hepatic glycogen content.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

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