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Screwpine

Introduction
Screwpine family refers to around 600 tropical species of the genus Pandanus spread out in South East Asia and the Pacific region. It refers to the various plants and shrubs of the screwpine family. The genus is classified as Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Pandanales, family Pandanaceae. A monocot, the screwpine is mainly charachterized by the presence of aerial prop roots and by the long narrow leaves which are spirally arranged in clusters. The arrangement of the leaves giving an impression of long, pointed effects has contributed to the naming of the tree as screwpine. It is a plant which has a multitude of uses and is known for its deodorizing effect. The plant is also susceptible to diseases which affect the other plants. The Lethal Yellowing which affects the coconut and palm trees

can also affect this tree. Animals including bats, rats, crabs, elephants and monitor lizards feed on the screw pine leaves.
 

Distribution
Nearly two hundred varieties of the plant are known to exist. The screw pine grows in rain forests and semi evergreen forests and along the seashores. It is highly tolerant to salt water and is also drought tolerant. Certain screw plants also occur inland. It grows quite fast in the regions where heavy rainfall is prevalent. The long narrow dark green leaves of the screwpine are used by the local populace of the South East Asian, and the Pacific region where it is native for everyday cooking purposes, making handicrafts and for religious purposes. It is also grown in backyards of houses.

 

Plant Description
A strange looking plant, it is supported by prop roots, which sustain the plant above-ground so that it gives an impression of hanging in mid-air. The stilted appearance of the plant gives it a unique appearance. The screwpine can be either a shrub or a tree, with sawlike edges. A tropical plant. it requires plenty of spaces to grow and its layering effect gives way to a pyramid shape. The trees can reach heights of over 25 feet. The tree has slender palm-like stems and sword-like leaves which lend it an unique appearance. Having a broad canopy of cover, it maintains a moderate growth rate. The trunk is stout and has wide branches, It is outfitted with thick supporting roots which are a requirement as the tree grows top heavy with its leaves, fruits and branches. It has a high level of heat tolerance with low water requirements. The strap-shaped leaves vary upto 30 cm up to 2 m or more in length.The leaves are arranged in a spiral form, from where it gets the name “screw” . The fruit is large

and rough and is shaped like a pineapple. Its fruit is fleshy and round, varying from 10 to 20 cm in diameter. The fruit is regarded as a great delicacy. The wholesome and healthy fruit of the screwpine can be eaten in raw or in cooked form. To separate the fruit part from the outer covering, knock it on a hard surface. The inner flesh ripe part is to be chewed. In an oven, cook the part of the fruit which is not yet ripe after wrapping it in banana and other leathery type of leaves. After two hours, the fruit is ready to be eaten.
 

Uses
In the earlier times, the screwpine products were mainly used for house thatching and for making women's grass skirts. The screwpines, especially its leaves, have multiple uses. The leaf is also used to make different types of strings and in basketry making. Traditional South East Asian medicine looked to the screw pine for the leaf shoots and roots which are known for their medicinal properties. The screw pine is regarded as the source for thatch, matting, clothing, and edible fruit. The leaves are light green in color. It is used in South East Asian cuisines to flavor rice, puddings and other desserts. The pulp of the screw pine fruit is used to flavor various deserts, sauces and preserves like jams and chutneys.The screw pine fruit is high in nutrients like beta carotene and Vitamin A. After the roasting, the seeds of the screwpine can also be eaten. Screwpine leaves are used to produce natural food

coloring. It is rich in nutrients like flavinoids and has confirmed antiviral, anti-allergen, antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.Screw pine mat weaving is a cottage industries in the state of Kerala. It serves for decorative purposes, fishing and religious uses. It is famed for its restorative and deodorant power and is also used as a breath sweetener. The screw plant is also an ornamental type of plant and is grown in backyard gardens. In the United States, a few species are grown as ornamentals and in greenhouses.
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