College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources logo

Hawaiian Native Plant Propagation Database

database logo

Pandanus tectorius
Alternative Botanical Names
Pandanus chamissonis
Pandanus douglasii
Pandanus menziesii
Pandanus odoratissimus

Common Names
Pu hala
Screw Pine
Potential or Traditional Uses
Lei (Flower or Seed)
Photo of Pandanus tectorius
Pandanus tectorius is a small tree growing 20 to 30 feet in height and from 15 to 35 feet in diameter. The trunk is stout and the branches grow at wide angles to it. It has distinctive long blade-like leaves (lau hala) about 2 inches wide and over 2 feet long. Most varieties have spines along the edges and on the midribs of the leaves. Spineless and variegated forms are available. The leaves are spirally arranged towards the ends of the branches and leave a spiral pattern on the trunk when they fall. Pandanus tectorius trees develop support or prop roots (ule hala) at the base of the trunk and sometimes along the branches.

Pandanus tectorius trees are either male or female. Female trees produce a large, segmented fruit somewhat resembling a pineapple. Male trees produce large clusters of tiny, fragrant flowers surrounded by white to cream colored bracts. These clusters are about 1 foot long and are called hinano in Hawaiian. (Lamb 1981; Meilleur et al 1997; NTBG 1996; Hensley 1997; Wagner 1990)

Habitat and Geographic Range
Currently, there is only one species of Pandanus formally recognized from the Hawaiian Islands - Pandanus tectorius. It is currently thought to be indigenous to Hawai'i, but there may have been additional introductions by the early Polynesians. Pandanus tectorius is found on all the main islands except Kaho'olawe. It is also found on Pacific islands in the rest of Polynesia, in Micronesia, in Melanesia, and as far west as northern Australia. Pandanus tectorius grows in moist coastal locations and valley slopes to an elevation of 2,000 feet. (Wagner 1990)
Propagation by Seeds
Female Pandanus tectorius trees flower 1 to 3 times a year, while male trees flower every 2 months. Pandanus tectorius is thought to reproduce sexually in Hawai'i, but there is some evidence that asexual seed development (apomixis) also occurs. Wind and small insects are assumed to be the pollinators.

The fruit of Pandanus tectorius is a round or oval head about 8 inches long and consisting of numerous segments called carpels, phalanges, or keys. There are 40 to 80 keys in each fruit. The color of the fruit ranges from yellow to orange to reddish when ripe. It takes several months for the fruits to ripen. Ripe fruits are very fragrant.

Pandanus keys are wedge shaped and 1 to 2 inches long. The inner end of the key is fleshy and the outer end is woody, generally containing a single seed. Lee found that larger fruit often contain seedless keys. Sometimes keys contain 2 seeds; infrequently, they contain more than 2 seeds.

In Hawai'i, traditionally, Pandanus tectorius was generally propagated by seed. To speed germination, soak the keys in cool tap water for 5 days, changing the water every day. Viable Pandanus keys will float, so do not discard them. NTBG suggests planting the keys in sterile potting mix at a depth of two times their diameter; Bornhorst recommends removing the fleshy part of the key, laying it on the planting medium, and burying it half way. Keep the potting mix moist. Germination takes about 2 months. (Bornhorst 1996; Bornhorst 2000; Lamb 1981; Lee 1989; Meilleur et al 1997; NTBG 1996; Hensley 1997; Wagner 1990)

Propagation by Cuttings
Pandanus tectorius can be grown from large cuttings. In Micronesia, selected forms of Pandanus tectorius are propagated by stem cuttings. Plants with aerial or prop roots are selected and about 2/3 of the leaves are trimmed off to reduce water loss. Moriarty suggests using a mature branch with leaves and some small aerial roots and rooting it in a sand bed. Plants grown from cuttings fruit in 4 to 6 years. (Bornhorst 1996; Manarangi 1992; Moriarty 1975; Stone et al 2000)
Propagation by Division
Not applicable.
Propagation by Air Layers
Not applicable.
Propagation by Grafting
Not applicable.
Propagation by Tissue Culture
No information located to date.
Bornhorst, Heidi L. 1996. Growing native Hawaiian plants: a how-to guide for the gardener. Honolulu: The Bess Press. p. 52-53.

Bornhorst, Heidi L. "Help with Pandanus question." Personal email. Posted 9 May 2000.

Hensley, David, Rhonda Stibbe, and Fred Rauch. 1997. Hala, Ornamentals and Flowers, OF-17. Honolulu: Cooperative Extension Service, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa. (Also available as a PDF file at Free CTAHR Publications.)

Lamb, Samuel H. 1981. Native trees and shrubs of the Hawaiian Islands. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Sunstone Press. p. 51-52.

Lee, M. A. B. 1989. Seed and seedling production in Pandanus tectorius. Biotropica 21 (1):57-60.

Manarangi, Anau. 1992. Agricultural research in the atolls of the mid-Pacific on tree crops other than coconut. In A review of agricultural development in the atolls; invited papers from the international conference on developing agricultural research programs for atolls. Pacific Harbour, Fiji, November 1990. Wageningen, Netherlands: Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation. p. 125-129.

Meilleur, Brien A., MaryAnne B. Maigret, and Richard Manshardt. 1997. Hala and wauke in Hawai'i. Bishop Museum Bulletin in Anthropology 7. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press. p. 1-32.

Moriarty, Dan. 1975. Native Hawaiian plants for tropical seaside landscaping. The Bulletin of the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden 5 (3):41-48.

National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG). 1996. Ten native Hawaiian trees for urban landscapes. Lawai, Hawaii: Education and Plant Science Departments. National Tropical Botanical Garden.

Stone, Earl L., Leo Migvar, and William L. Robison. 2000. Growing plants on atoll soils. Livermore, California: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Wagner, Warren L., Darrel R. Herbst, and S. H. Sohmer. 1990. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawai'i. 2 vols., Bishop Museum Special Publication 83. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press and Bishop Museum Press. p. 1479-1481.

Search Database

Browse Database --
By Botanical Name
By Common Name

Other Native Hawaiian Plant Sites

Other Plant Propagation Sites

Database Bibliography

Database Home Page

Other CTAHR Databases

The image in this record is used with permission from Dr. Gerald Carr's Web site "Hawaiian Native Plants" at

Last updated:
16 February 2002

Please send comments and suggestions to