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Pandanus solms-laubachii F.Muell.1899
pronounced: pan-DAY-nuss soamz-lau-BACK-ee-eye
(Pandanaceae — the Pandanus family)
common name: Marsh Screw-Pine
The botanist honoured in the name of this species rejoiced under the name of Herman Maximilian Carl Ludwig Friederich Graf zu Solms-Laubach. He was a German botanist who lived from 1842 to 1915. In 1872 he was appointed Professor of Botany at Strasbourg, and in 1879 both Professor of Botany and director of the botanic gardens at Göttingen University. In 1888 he returned to Strasbourg, where he was again Professor of Botany until he retired in 1907. In 1883-1884 he travelled to Java and collected many botanical specimens, presumably including this species.
The specimens I have examined, and reckon to be Pandanus solms-laubachii, are surrounding the main lagoon at Horseshoe Bay. There is much confusion about this species because of its propensity to hybridization with Pandanus cookii. I think the former species grows more grotesquely shaped branches, the sort that would look absolutely ghostly by moonlight. If any reader decides to investigate this lagoon area at Horseshoe Bay, I recommend ample coverage of the body with insect repellant first – it almost always teems with mosquitoes.
I think there are more of these marsh screw-pines in the swamp between Picnic and Barbarra Streets, Picnic Bay, but I have not yet investigated there – it is generally very boggy.
All the screw-pines are multi-use plants. The wedge-shaped fruit segments have a fleshy portion with a fruity flavour, excellent for use in cooking. The fruit pulp can be used to flavour desserts and sweet sauces, and also in jams and chutneys. The fruit is also high in vitamin A, as is usual with most orange-coloured fruits. The seeds can be eaten after roasting. It is a major source of food in many Pacific Islands, particularly on coral atolls. The pandanus may well have been introduced to many of the isolated islands by Polynesian voyagers.
The leaf fibre is used traditionally to make string, and in baskets, while the leaf shoots and root tips are used in traditional medicines. A gargle for sores in the mouth can be made using the juice from the pounded inner core of the growing tip. The leaves are an important source of thatch, matting, and clothing.
The caterpillars of the Banana Scab Moth Nacoleia octasema attack young Pandanus fruit
Photographs taken 2008, Horseshoe Bay lagoon
Page last updated 10th Januiary 2017