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Publication #ENH-589

Pandanus utilis: Screw-Pine1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean2

Introduction

Creating a striking landscape effect wherever it is used, screw-pine has a pyramidal, sometimes irregular, open, but much-branched silhouette. The smooth, stout trunks is topped with full, graceful heads of long, thin leaves, three feet long and three inches wide, emerging spirally from stubby branches. It is not a true pine tree. The blue-green foliage color adds to the striking nature of this exotic tree. The leaves are edged with small red spines and are used to make mats and baskets in the tropics. Branches have prominent leaf scars which encircle the stems. Large brace-roots emerge from the trunk several feet above the ground, helping to support the plant. Screw-pine is capable of reaching 60 feet in height but is not usually seen over 30 feet in USDA hardiness zone 10 and 11, with a spread of 20 feet. Growth rate is slow to moderate, depending upon fertilization and watering schedules, and screw-pine is very popular for use as a specimen or container planting.

Figure 1. 

Full Form - Pandanus utilis: Screw-pine


Credit:

UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Pandanus utilis

Pronunciation: pan-DAY-nus YOO-tih-liss

Common name(s): Screw-pine

Family: Pandanaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Figure 2)

Origin: native to Madagascar

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: not assessed/incomplete assessment

Uses: reclamation; deck or patio; specimen; container or planter; street without sidewalk; highway median

Figure 2. 

Range


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: 20 to 30 feet

Spread: 12 to 20 feet

Crown uniformity: irregular

Crown shape: pyramidal

Crown density: open

Growth rate: moderate

Texture: coarse

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: whorled

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: spiny, pectinate

Leaf shape: linear

Leaf venation: parallel

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: 1 ½ to 3 feet

Leaf color: blue green

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Leaf - Pandanus utilis: Screw-pine


Credit:

UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Flower

Flower color: white

Flower characteristics: not showy; emerges in clusters on long spikes and only occurs on male specimens

Flowering: winter

Figure 4. 

Flower - Pandanus utilis: Screw-pine


Credit:

UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Fruit

Fruit shape: oval or globulose

Fruit length: 8 to 9 inches

Fruit covering: dry or hard

Fruit color: orange to yellow when ripe

Fruit characteristics: attracts squirrels/mammals; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem; head contains 100-200 tightly compressed drupes

Figure 5. 

Fruit - Pandanus utilis: Screw-pine


Credit:

UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: branches don't droop; showy; typically one trunk; no thorns

Bark: brown, smooth, and has small ridges of old leaf scars encircling the trunk

Pruning requirement: little required

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: brown

Current year twig thickness: very thick

Wood specific gravity: unknown

Figure 6. 

Bark - Pandanus utilis: Screw-pine


Credit:

Gitta Hasing, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Culture

Light requirement: full sun to partial shade

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; wet to well-drained

Drought tolerance: moderate

Aerosol salt tolerance: high

Other

Roots: not a problem

Winter interest: no

Outstanding tree: no

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown

Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

Although the male plants possess conspicuous, fragrant flowers, it is the female plant which is preferred for landscape use because of the large, eight to nine-inch, globular fruits which hang from "cords". The fruits are made up of 100 to 200 tightly compressed drupes, similar to those of a pineapple, and change from green to yellow when ripe. There is only a small amount of edible pulp but the fruits are quite showy.

Screw-Pine produces fruit when grown in full sun but young plants may be kept in the shade. Soil should be well-drained and plants kept well-watered. Screw-Pine may be considered messy due to the constant leaf-drop throughout the year.

Veitch Screw-Pine or Ribbon-Plant (Pandanus veitchii) has white-banded, spiny leaves, does not fruit, and is often used as a pot plant. Sander Screw-Pine (Pandanus sanderi) has denser, more tufted foliage with golden yellow bands from center of leaf to margin.

Propagation is by seed (soaked 24-hours before planting), basal sucker division, or large cuttings.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern but occasionally scales.

Additional References

Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH-589, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.