Common Name: Screwpine
Screwpine is a small evergreen tree with conspicuous prop roots and prickly stems .It grows to about 7 metres tall with sword-like leaves that can be 1 metre long
A multipurpose plant, it is very important in the economy of local people in areas where it grows wild, providing food, medicines and a wide range of commodities. It is commonly harvested from the wild and is also often grown as an ornamental in many areas of the tropics.It is cultivated within its native range, as well as in Central India and S Arabia.
Sandy soils by the coast.
Usually forming a stand immediately to the back of the beach, and never found very far inland.
A plant of the lowland tropics
It can tolerate occasional temperatures down to almost freezing
Prefers a moist but well-drained soil in a sunny position
Grows well in sandy soils
Does well in poor or highly alkaline soils
Succeeds in sun or partial shade
Plants grown from cuttings commence fruiting in 4 to 6 years
Branches do not have dormant buds and so will not resprout if cut back into the old wood
A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruits and seed are required.
Fruit - it needs to be cooked to destroy a deleterious substance
An excellent flavour.Very fragrant.The soft portion of the pulp is cooked.The fruit can be made into flour, paste and thin, flay cakes.The ovoid fruit is about 18cm in diameter.The cylindrical fruit is a syncarp made up of 40 - 80 individual drupes. Individual drupes are hard, orange woody wedges 5 - 10cm long - each containing a few, slender seeds.Each wedge has a fleshy base imbued with a sweet-smelling, orange pulp with a flavour like sweet, mashed pumpkin.
Seed - raw or cooked
A delicious nutty flavour when eaten raw or cooked, though they are fiddly to extract
Seeds contain 44 - 50% fat and 20 - 34% protein
Terminal buds - raw
Used like the apical buds of palm trees, they can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable
Inner base of young leaves - raw
Kewra water, which is a watery extract distilled from the flowers, is used as a flavouring in desserts and drinks
Aerial roots - cooked
They can be processed into a beverage
The aerial roots yield a decoction that is used as a beverage in the treatment of blennorrhoea This decoction, combined with urethral injections of the sap of the base of the banana plant, is said to be a rapid cure for this malady.The bark is scraped in Zingiber leaf and the juice extracted into a cup. This liquid is drunk as a sedative for mental patients.A small portion of the young root is heated over a fire then crushed on a smooth stone - the extracted juice is applied to the bites or wounds caused by any fish, beings said to ease the pain and promote healing.
The plant can be grown as a hedge
The leaves are used to make hats, mats, baskets, clothing, sails etc.There is a thornless variety that is used to produce fibres for thatch, cordage etc.The chief use of this plant is in the production of the fibre used in manufacturing sabutan hats. Hats made of sabutan are strong and durable, and in texture more nearly resemble the Panama hat than any other kind manufactured in the Philippines.The unbleached hats are a light green colour, and the chief objection to them is that they do not bleach readily. Good sabutan hats, however, command high prices in the Philippines.Sleeping mats of excellent quality are made from sabutan fibres either in natural or dyed shades.
The soft trunks have been used for making fishing rafts.
The leaves and roots are used as wreathing material for mats, baskets, ropes and nets. In the Andaman Isl. And New Caledonia, leaves are used for wrapping cigars whereas flowers are taken as tobacco substitute. The wood is used in the construction of native houses in the Tokelau Isl. Perfume plant (male flowers used for perfume production and as flavouring substance for food) and fruit plant. Flower buds and inner parts of the leaves are eaten as vegetable. Seeds edible. Flowers, leaves, and roots are important in folk medicine. Plant extracts possess diuretic activity. The anthers are used for headache, earache and blood diseases, the spadix juice for rheumatic arthritis in animals. With respect to different kinds of utilization, the species is often confused with others because they are difficult to distinguish when only e.g. Roots are available. The species is very polymorphous. Numerous varieties and forms exist which have been selected for diverse uses. They had been sometimes described as own species. From the various varieties are cultivated
Seed - pre-soak for 24 hours.To speed germination, soak the drupes in cool tap water for 5 days, changing the water every day.Viable drupes will float, so do not discard them.Alternatively, remove the fleshy part of the drupe, laying it on the planting medium, and burying it half way. Keep the potting mix moist. Germination takes about 2 months.
Suckers during the growing season.Cuttings of lateral shoots.
Plants can be propagated from large cuttings.Stems with aerial or prop roots are selected; about 2/3 of the leaves are trimmed off to reduce water loss; and the stems rooted in a sandy soil.