Saturday, January 14, 2012

Screw pine (mengkuang)

Pandanus is a genus of plants containing many different species and belonging to the plant Family Pandanaceae or the screw pine family. The plants are typically having long and pointed leaves with hooked spines at the perimeter. The various species differ in size and height, ranging from 1-6 meters. There are several common species found in Malaysia, each of which may contribute to food or economic activities of the population. Pandanus amaryllifolius is the edible species.

The giant screwpine are known in Malaysia as mengkuang. The mengkuang species, whose leaves are commonly used for waving in the production of handicrafts is Pandanus atrocarpus. There are other giant species of screw pines. Some are found in mangroves and some are found in the forests,while others are found by the seashore.

The mengkuang plant shown in pictures below has stems that are fibrous in nature and branched at various levels along the heights of the plants. The long spiny leaves are clustered at the end of each branch. Prop roots are formed at close to the base of the stem for support. The fruits are borne in round-shaped clusters of more than 10 fruits, which are tough and fibrous. Pandanus tectorius and Pandanus odoratissimus appear very similar. Since the pictures below were taken by the seaside (of Terengganu, by the way), the plant fits the name "mengkuang laut" (sea screw pine), and hence may be the species Pandanus odoratissimus.

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