Screw pine – edible wild plant – how to find, identify, prepare, and other uses for survival.
Screw pine or Screwpine (Pandanus species)
The screw pine is a strange plant on stilts, or prop roots, that support the plant above ground so that it appears suspended in midair. These plants are either shrubby or
treelike, 3 to 9 meters (9 to 27 feet) tall, with a broad canopy, heavy fruit, and stiff leaves having saw-like edges. The trunk is stout, wide-branching, and ringed with many leaf scars. Typically the Screw Pine will have many thick prop roots near the base which support the tree as the upper half becomes heavy with branches, leaves, and fruit. The leaves are long, linear, with pointed ends ranging in length from 1-7 feet and 1/2 to 4 inches wide. Flowers on the male are long and surrounded by white bracts while the female produces flowers with round fruits. The fruits are large, roughened balls resembling pineapples but without the tuft of leaves at the end. They turn from green to bright orange or red as the fruit matures.
Where to Find: The screw pine is a tropical plant that grows in rain forests and semi-evergreen seasonal forests. It is found mainly along seashores, although certain kinds occur inland for some distance, from Madagascar to southern Asia and the islands of the
southwestern Pacific. There are about 600 species.
Edible Parts: Knock the ripe fruit to the ground to separate the fruit segments from the hard outer covering. Chew the inner fleshy part. Cook in an earth oven fruit that is not fully ripe. Before cooking, wrap the whole fruit in banana leaves, breadfruit leaves, or any other suitable thick, leathery leaves. After cooking for about 2 hours, you can chew fruit segments like ripe fruit. Green fruit is inedible. In some species, almost every part of the plant is edible. Leaves can be placed in cooking liquid to add flavor (and removed after cooking) or boiled until soft. The leaves have a sweet flavor and aroma.