13 May 2017

Fascination of Plants Day 5: Screw Pine

Bruce Langridge

Not only is this tropical coastal plant a sculptural delight but screw pine Pandanus utilis is really useful too (the Latin name utilis means useful).

It might be called a pine but this is more related to a grass than a tree. It lacks woody secondary growth so needs its long odd-looking roots to hold itself up. These usefully stabilise shifting sands on coasts across the world although the plant is only native to the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar and Mascarene.

The leaves are huge and have been used to make hats, mats, roofs, baskets and paper. But they are sweet and tasty too and if you were to go to a Thai restaurant, there’s a fair chance your food would be served on one of its leaves.

Screw pines can grow up to 20m high so ours might give us a problem one day in its Plas Pilipala home.

This is one of 7 fascinating plants that will be featured on the Fascination of Plants Day guided walk on 18th May. Led by Bruce Langridge and the Garden’s curator Will Ritchie, the walk will begin at the Western entrance to the Great Glasshouse at 2pm.