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Screw pine is an odd-looking tree in the Pandanaceae family that is originally native to Madagascar and Mauritius. Although many see the screw pine as a tree, some refer to this as a shrub. While it is not related to the pineapple nor a palm, the leaves of the screw pine resemble the palm tree species. Screw pine grows stilt-like aerial roots at the base that appear to lift the tree out of the ground. The heavier, lower branches may grow prop roots to help support them.
Screw pines have a branched trunk with smooth, brown bark. The bark has small ridges of old leaf scars encircling the trunk.
Branches are sleek, rounded, and tipped with clusters of evergreen. Screw pine branches have prominent annular leaf scars which encircle the stems. Branches don't droop and they are showy.
Screw pines grow at a slow to moderate pace and can get 6 to 9 metres (20 to 30') tall.
Strap-like spiny, reddish-brown leaves grow to about a metre (3') long and 7cm (3") wide. There are small (1-4mm) red spines lining the edges of the leaves making it tricky to handle. Leaves are arranged spirally in three series, crowded towards the top of stems, simple, without a petiole but with broad clasping base. Each leaf tapers to a long point at the apex. Margins and ribs have many sharp, ascending, reddish, stiff, erect spines with many parallel longitudinal veins. Leaves are blue/green but cold snaps can turn the leaves to a bright reddish orange color.
The flower is white, not showy; emerges in clusters on long spikes and only occurs on male specimens. each flower has 8 to 12 stamens. The flowers are simple, petal-less, usually densely clustered, and either male or female.
Only female screw pines produce an edible fruit; however it is not very tasty and many recommend cooking it. Fruit is roundish, 15cm (6") across. It has a compound and rough surface, green, yellow to orange as it ripens with a small amount of edible pulp. They have numerous large seeds.
This tree is found in many tropical and subtropical coastal regions across the globe. In some areas this prolific tree is second only in number to coconut palms. Screw pines are native to Madagascar and Mauritius and are found on Reunion, Seychelles, parts of Africa, Asia, Spain, Australia, Brazil, parts of the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Florida.
Ripened fruit. According to Hippocrates Wellness in Florida, leaves are edible and they have a floral-like aroma that are used for making sandwich wraps and teas. Be very careful of those spines!
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We are not health professionals, medical doctors, nor are we nutritionists. It is up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed in this web site. Please click here for more information.