Pandanus tectorius is a species of Pandanus (screwpine) in the family Pandanaceae that is native to Malesia, eastern Australia, and the Pacific Islands. Common names include Tahitian screwpine, thatch screwpine, hala and fala.
P. tectorius is a tree that grows to 4–14 m tall. The single trunk is spiny and forks at a height of 4–8 metres. It is supported by prop roots that firmly anchor the tree to the ground. The fruit of P. tectorius is either ovoid, ellipsoid, subglobose or globose with a diameter of 4–20 cm and a length of 8–30 cm. The fruit is made up of 38–200 wedge-like phalanges, which have an outer fibrous husk. Phalanges contain two seeds on average, with a maximum of eight reported. The phalanges are buoyant, and the seeds within them can remain viable for many months while being transported by ocean currents.
The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked and is a major source of food in Micronesia, especially in the atolls. It is also one of the traditional foods of Maldivian cuisine. The fibrous nature of the fruit also serves as a natural dental floss. It is also used in Samoan culture as a Ula Fala, a necklace made out of the dried fruit painted in red and is worn by the Matai during special occasions and functions.
The tree's leaves are often used as flavouring for sweet dishes such as kaya jam, and are also said to have medicinal properties. It is also used in Sri Lankan cookery, where the leaves are used to flavour a variety of curries. Leaves were used by the Polynesians to make baskets, mats, outrigger canoe sails, thatch roofs, and grass skirts.
Here the fruit is seen on top of some oranges for scale.
This post is part of the Friday Greens meme,
and also part of the Food Friday meme.
Here is a method for preparing pandanus purée: