Screw pines start small and become giants

Screw pines (Pandanus tectorius) grow mainly and naturally at the Thai coast, but can be an impressive ornamental plant in any tropical or subtropical environment. At Discovery Garden Pattaya we show large screw pines with their distinct red fruits, have smaller plants and seeds for sale.

Screw pines grow up to 14 meters

Screw pines grow up to 14 meters

I knowingly saw my first screw pine (Pandanus tectorius) at a resort on Koh Chang where they were on display in the garden. They were huge, up to 14 meters high and certainly interesting to watch, landmarks in that garden. Its chain-saw like leaves are between 90 and 150 centimeters long with sharp spikes at the edges: Dangerous, but beautiful. I could get some seedlings and planted them at my fish pond in Pattaya.

Careful, sharp spikes grow at the edges of the leaves

Careful, sharp spikes grow at the edges of the leaves

Since the seedlings were so small, I made a mistake to plant them too close together. After only two years they formed a thick green wall where nobody could get through any longer and we had to hack them down.

Screw pines are beautiful, but dangerous

Screw pines are beautiful, but dangerous

In other locations at Discovery Garden Pattaya I had a better hand, my most impressive screw pines grew high, wide and dense. After maybe four years the first fruits started to appear. Even the Thai visitors of Discovery Garden say: “Alai, alai?” What is that?

The fruits of the screw pine are first greeen

The fruits of the screw pine are first greeen

The round or oval fruits remind one a bit of pineapples and pandanus tectorius in Thai is indeed called “sapalot talay” or “sea pineapple”. First the fruits are green, when mature they become red.

Then they turn orange or red

Then they turn orange or red

The fruit is made up of phalanges, up to 180 are in one fruit. One phalange normally contains two seeds. Since those phalanges are buoyant the seeds can float on the sea for many months and still germinate when ashore. That is why nobody can say where the screw pines originated from.

Normally one phalange contains two seeds

Normally one phalange contains two seeds

Screw pines have deep prop roots that anchor the plants solidly into the ground. These plants are salt and wind resistant and thrive even on horrific soil.

Growing a screw pine from seeds

Growing a screw pine from seeds

Screw pines can be grown from clones, cuttings or seeds. At Discovery Garden you can buy live pandanus tectorius plants or seeds.

A bunch of screw pine seeds was left unattended and germinated at Discovery Garden Pattaya

A bunch of screw pine seeds was left unattended and germinated at Discovery Garden Pattaya

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *