Pandanaceae Home PagePandanus tectorius habitat

Pandanaceae is a large family (3 genera, about 900 species) of trees, shrubs and root climbers found in the Old World tropical and subtropical regions, from West Africa through the Pacific.  Most members of the family prefer living in coastal or marshy areas.  Stems have aerial prop roots to provide support and display sympodial branching.  The stems bear prominent leaf scars.  The common name for pandans is 'screwpines' because their stems are twisted, so leaves appear to be spirally arranged (the leaves are in reality alternate).  The leaves are very long and narrow, sheathing, simple, undivided, with parallel veins; the leaf margins and adaxial midribs are typically very prickly.  The plants are dioecious.  Inflorescences are terminally borne.  The flowers are minute, borne on pedicels, and are arranged in a racemose spadix with a subtended spathe or bracts which may be brightly colored.  Female flowers have a superior ovary usually of many carpels in a ring but may be reduced to a row of carpels or a single carpel.  Male flowers contain numerous stamens arranged in a raceme or umbel with free or fused filaments.  Both male and female flowers lack a calyx and corolla.  Pandan fruits are berries or multilocular drupes, and in several taxa the fruits resemble pineapples. 

Pandan fruit

Pandanus fruit.
Habitat of Pandanus tectorius.

Economic Uses

Baskets made from pandans
The most common species used economically is Pandanus odoratissimus.  The leaves are used to make baskets, mats, hats, and roof thatch.  Fibers are taken from the aerial roots to make cords and brushes.  Other species are used for potpourri, medicinal concoctions, and as spices and perfumes in India, Thailand and Malaysia.  Some species are used as starchy food sources, such as P. utilis and P. andamanensium; P. lendam fruits are known as Nicobar breadfruits.  Many species are used as ornamentals such as P. veitchii plants which have glossy dark green leaves with a white border.

The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia (PH) has many type specimens of Pandanaceae.  Using the links below, you can look at the Academy's Pandanaceae type specimens, cross-referenced with country where collected. 

Pandanus specimen sheet with fruitPH Pandanaceae Species Index, alphabetical

List of PH Types and Countries where Collected


    Herbarium sheet of P. cominsii Hemsh var. micronesicus B. Stone

Benjamin C. Stone (1933–1994) was one of the major collectors of Pandanaceae specimens.  Perhaps one of the most important additions to the herbarium of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (PH) in recent years was the donation of Ben Stone's  personal herbarium prior to his departure from the institution in 1989. Stone himself wrote an introduction for an unrealized publication about his herbarium and an index to his paleotropical collections. 

History of Ben Stone and Collections

Additional Links of Interest


Created by Bryan A. Niedenberger as part of a 2005 REU project.
Additions and modifications by Anne Kadar Duzan, 2006. 

Acknowledgements: Dr. Paul Morris, Dr. James Macklin, the Botany Department & others
The National Science Foundation, The Academy of Natural Sciences