Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beach Pandan - Think Green Thursday

If not for its strange-looking red-orange fruit that resembles a pineapple, I wouldn't have paid attention to this shrub that were growing at the shores of Cagbalete Island. Locally known as Pandan-Dagat (Beach Pandan or Pandanus tectorius), this screwpine is abundant along seashores throughout the Philippines according to a DTI website. It naturally grows on mangrove margins and beaches, and is never found very far inland. We had woven pandan sleeping mats at home when I was growing up, but this was the first time that I've seen pandan-dagat in its natural state.

But I know that this screwpine is a source of livelihood to many craftsmen and women in our handicraft industry. Leaves are collected from the wild then dried, they can be dyed and woven into baskets, bayong, hats, placemats and sleeping mats. The unassuming leaves can also be transformed into something unexpected---like these ecologically-chic bags designed by Filipina designer Cora Jacob.

Bag photos from

Woven pandan are also crafted into home decor products like desk accessories, jewelry boxes, functional trays, even small furniture---from a humble beginning to something extraordinary.

But with sea-level rise and extreme climatic shifts, there's a possibility that this shrub may not be as abundant as before if we don't do anything to preserve and restore its habitat. Sure, local designers and craftsmen are addressing the global call for earth-friendly products and continue to find ways to work with our natural environment. Individually though, we need to be sensitive in maintaining biodiversity wherever our feet may take us, or nature's gifts like pandan-dagat would be disappear forever.

persistent young sprouts

bayong, or traditional bag woven from pandan and palm leaves---
reintroduced to hopefully replace plastic shopping bags

Posted for Think Green Thursday


2sweetnsaxy said...

How cool! Thanks for sharing the shots and the info. I wouldn't mind having one of those bags and now I know from what it was made.

Dennis Villegas said...

Ah yun pala yun...hehe may natutunan ako! Galing..siguro pwede ring gawing damit yang pandan.
Thanks for sharing!

maryt/theteach said...

Simple green leaves and a lovely red-orange fruit! The bags are gorgeous, luna! Happy Think Green Thursday! :)

maryt/theteach said...

luna, I left a comment is it awaiting your approval? Happy Think Green thursday!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's incredible. I learned something today. Thank you for sharing. Your blog is beautiful.

Thorne said...

That's a great photo and killer info! The fruit looks a lot like morinda citrifola or Noni . Keepin' it green!

MYM said...

Very interseting! I love that first photo.

bernadette said...

THAT's a pandan-dagat?! And you read it is usally seen near the sea? I have seen this very same plant with those very same pineapple-like fruits up our mountain---on the fringes of the rainforest! 300 meters above sea level.

But then I know its name na!! and can brag it to my hubby :-).

RA said...

What an interesting post! I didn't know that we could transform pandan into a bag. Here we use it to add some flavor to cakes or dessert. It smells really good. Have a great weekend,Miranda :)

Unknown said...

hello, Bernadette! there are other species of pandan like "bariw". bariw grows at low and medium altitudes. i also saw pandan in lucban and lousiana, and another specie called "sabutan" in aurora.

Unknown said...

hi, Rosidah! we also use the fragrant specie of pandan to add flavor and aroma to food and drinks. we also add pandan leaves when cooking rice. thanks for droppin' by.