Pandan (Pandanus)

Description and Characteristics 

Pandan is a common name shared by a number species of Pandanus, and is also known as Fragrant Screw Pine. It varies in size from small shrubs less than a meter to medium-sized trees of about 20 meters. It is characterized by its abundant leaves spirally crowded towards the ends of its branches. The leaves are green, long, linear, and slender growing up to 1.5 meters long, three to five centimeters wide. Its male inflorescence emits a fragrant smell, and grows in length of up to 0.5 meters. Pandan is also distinguished by its sweet, floral and nutty with a hint of grassiness aroma. It develops fruits that are ellipsoid to globosely-ellipsoid in shape. Each fruit is composed of 50 or more fleshy drupes that are four to six centimeters long, narrow below and truncate at the apex, and yellow-red to bright red-orange at maturity. The fruit of some species are edible and are eaten by some forest animals like bats, rats, and lizards while the majority are dispersed primarily by water.

Photo and copyright: Godofredo Stuart, Jr | StuartXchange | http://stuartxchange.com/Pandan.html

Location and Sources

In the Philippines, there are 48 species of Pandan that’s endemic to the country. They grow in thickets along seashores throughout the country, as well as in various habitats, from sandy beaches, mangroves and primary forests. Different variants of Pandan are present in many provinces of the Philippines including Bulusan, Laguna, and Negros. 

Application and Product Output

Pandan has various applications including cosmetics, aesthetic/ornamental plants, food ingredients, handicrafts, etc. Pandan has an attractive aroma and natural green pigment making it a useful ingredient in cosmetic products like perfume and coloring of cosmetic products. Furthermore, the fragrance can attract appetite, that’s why it is also used as an additional ingredient in cooking rice, steaming sweet potatoes, and various other foods. The juice from its leaves also become a natural green coloring on cakes, and are also added in drinks and desserts to give that pleasurable fragrance and attractive presence. The uses of the Pandan are not only limited to cooking uses because its leaves and roots also have medicinal benefits. Decoction of leaves is used to treat headache, arthritis, and stomach spasms. On the other hand, the decoction of roots is believed to have aphrodisiac and cardiotonic properties and is also used for arthritis and to prevent spontaneous abortion. The leaves are also found to have antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties that’s why pulverized dried leaves is used to facilitate wound healing. In some provinces, the water from cuts made near the base of the trunk is used to stimulate urination.

Simple process of juice extraction from Pandan leaves. Photo and copyright: Devour.Asia | https://devour.asia/how-to-use-pandan-leaves-in-cooking/

Fibers found in Pandan leaves are proven to be ideal in making handicrafts such as bags, wallets, planters, mats, baskets, and other similar products. In preparing the material for production, margins and midribs of leaves are removed and the leaves are cut into strips of the desired width. The strips are then dried in the sun and allowed to wilt. To make them workable, they are rolled under one end of a heavy log. After further drying in the sun, it is then ready for use in weaving different handiworks. On the other hand, in a study by Michael Angelo L. Juliano and Lemmuel L. Tayo, they presented the utilization of Pandan leaf fibers for the production of paper as an alternative to wood source in producing pulp and paper.

Pandan leaf journal. Photo and copyright: go.skimresources.com |  https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/799740846321841380/
Pandan leaves made into planters, wallets, and bags. Photo and copyright: Pandan Products Shop located at San Isidro, Calatrava, Negros Occidental via Facebook | https://web.facebook.com/fourJzPandan

Production and Sustainable Consumption

Currently, there are only small scale productions of Pandan in the country where products can be found in local shops and are also made available online for bulk and lone purchase. Moreover, Pandan is not as commercially in-demand and as frequently consumed compared to rattan that’s why most productions are confined only in communities where it is naturally abundant like Laguna and Negros. In many provinces, Pandan are mostly harvested for local consumption only that’s why there’s no scarcity when it comes to its sustainability in the area since locals are able to plant again for their future consumption. In Laguna, farmers are making a living out of weaving Pandan leaves into baskets and planters. In Negros, on the other hand, they have small scale production of export quality pandan bags, mats, and other products available all year round and are even abundant during their Panaad Festival held every summer. 

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Works Cited

“Pandan (Pandanus tectorius). Fragrant Screw Pine”. Philippine Herbal Medicine, https://www.philippineherbalmedicine.org/pandan.htm. Accessed 9 February 2021.

“Pandanus simplex Merr. Pandanaceae”. Useful Tropical Plants. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Pandanus+simplex. Accessed 9 February 2021.

“Various Benefits of Pandan, one of which is for Handicraft Products”. PT. Harmoni Jaya Kreasi, https://harmonikreasi.com/2020/05/06/various-benefits-of-pandan. Accessed 9 February 2021.

Juliano, Michael Angelo, Tayo, Lemmuel. “Utilization of Pandan Leaf Fibers (Pandanus simplex merr.) for the Production of Paper”. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, vol. 563, Issue 1, https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2020E%26ES.563a2012J/abstract. Accessed 9 February 2021.

Stuart, Godofredo, Jr. “Pandan”. StuartXchange, http://stuartxchange.com/Pandan.html. Accessed 9 February 2021.

Taculao, Patricia Bianca. “Planters made of pandan leaves provide income for Laguna farmers”. Monthly Agriculture, 10 Jun. 2020, https://www.agriculture.com.ph/2020/06/10/planters-made-of-pandan-leaves-provide-income-for-laguna-farmers/. Accessed 9 February 2021.

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