The Pandanus species, from the family Pandanaceae, is a plant which thrives in the warmer regions of Australia. There are over 600 species of Pandanaceae throughout the world, varying in range from small shrubs of around one metre to large trees reaching over 20 metres tall. The larger of the species often have short prop-style roots to help support its trunk, branches, fruit and broad canopy of leaves, allowing it to grow in sandy soil where support for the trunk may otherwise be lacking. Plants are dioecious, meaning they have either male or female flowers which are produced on different plants with large, colourful fruit on the bigger specimens resembling a woody pineapple.
Pandanus is a versatile plant tolerant of a wide range of conditions and soil types. However while there are some varieties that have adapted to mountainous conditions, many will generally perish in cold or frosty weather. Pandanus grows in acid to alkaline conditions with soils ranging in pH from 6 to 10 and may be propagated from cuttings taken from the parent plant, though the more usual method is by seed.
As well as having a fruit which in larger specimens is edible, the genus is an important community resource in many parts of the Pacific Islands where it is commonly used as building material and for making everyday products such as baskets and bags. Similarly, Aboriginal people in Australia have long used the Pandanus both as a food source and for medicinal purposes.
Preventing fungus attack
Care must be taken not to over water the Pandanus, particularly during humid weather. Too much watering may encourage the growth of fungi — the main danger faced by Pandanus trees and plants — which could either kill or severely weaken the plant. Drenching the plant in recommended fungicides, such as Agrifos 600 or Fongarid, particularly in rainy humid conditions, may help prevent fungus outbreaks.
Monitoring and keeping down pests
Pandanus may be susceptible to a number of pests, perhaps the most notable being the Pandanus Leaf Hopper (jemella Australiae).
According to the NSW Department of the Environment, the leaf hopper lays a multitude of eggs on the underside of the Pandanus trees’ leaves. When the eggs hatch they gather and feed on the trees’ sap. This produces a substance called honeydew which accelerates any mould growth and may affect the leaves and growing shoots. If unchecked the infestation will cause dieback and the eventual death of the Pandanus tree. Periodic treatment with a recommended pesticide, such as Confidor, is recommended to treat outbreaks of pests such as the leaf hopper.
The Department recommends special care be taken in monitoring for signs of leaf hopper on Pandanus trees and plants be given a thorough checking before purchasing. When disposing of infected plant material, the Department suggests sealing plant material in bags before disposing of in a bin, to prevent the spread of the pest.
When buying a Pandanus plant or tree, ensure that the nursery from where you obtained the plant follows stringent hygiene procedures to help prevent the spread of fungus diseases and pests such as leaf hopper. A strict pest and disease control management procedure, such as that practiced here at Eplants Trade Nursery, should not only help reduce the chances of receiving an infected plant, but also help reduce the spread of harmful pests and diseases throughout the environment.
Once dispatched from Eplants nursery we have no guarantees on any losses or damages that may occur.
- NSW Department of the Environment
- Department of the Environment and Resource Management
- Pacific Island Agroforestry
This informative article was written from our own research and development, by our horticulturalists and industry professionals here at eplants.