Just this weekend, my cousin brought home a strange fruit that resembles a pineapple at first glance but develops similarity to an exotic palm fruit as you look closer. Its color is vivid orange fading into yellow in other parts of this spiky round fruit. It is hard to the touch and has spikes of what looks like clustered together pieces of “unborn” bananas that you find when you cut open a banana heart. The skin is similar to that of the pineapple. The name, Pandan Fruit.
Yes, you read it right. Pandan bears fruit. Not the kind of pandan that we all know, though. Yes, you read it right again. There are different kinds of pandan. Usually, the pandan we know is the kind that we put in our sinaing, or the one we boil to extract a flavoring we use for buko-pandan or pichi-pichi and other kakanins. This variety of pandan grows no taller than 11/2 feet maximum and are known for their fragrant leaves.
In far away places like Real, Quezon, people grow giant pandan plants not for food but for the fibrous leaves that can be dried and woven into mats, baskets and other native stuff. It’s a tradition there and a cottage industry, too! You won’t see them in the hi-way unlike the plant that walis tambo is made from.
These varieties of pandan grow larger than human beings around 8 to 10 feet tall, with wide leaves of up to 6 inches in width when mature and they grow flowers and fruits. It is indeed Pandanzilla! They are grown in moist areas without further maintenance on the part of the grower except during harvest time.
Cousin Wek is contemplating on bringing a plant or two to transplant into his front garden. Knowing him and his penchant for everything exotic, bizarre and out-of-this-world, I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I’ll see this monstrous plant will be a centerpiece in his wild garden. It will be beautiful!