Pandanus (pandan, screwpine), is a genus of monocots with about 600 known species. Plants vary in size from small shrubs less than 1 m tall, up to medium-sized trees 20 m tall, typically with a broad canopy and moderate growth rate. The trunk is stout, wide-branching, and ringed with many leaf scars. They commonly have many thick prop roots near the base, which provide support as the tree grows top-heavy with leaves, fruit, and branches. The leaves are strap-shaped, varying between species from 30 cm up to 2 m or more long, and from 1.5 cm up to 10 cm broad.
They are dioecious, with male and female flowers produced on different plants. The fruits are globose, 10 to 20 cm in diameter, and have many prism-like sections, resembling the fruit of the pineapple. Typically, the fruit changes from green to bright orange or red as it matures. The fruit of some species are edible.
Pandan (P. amaryllifolius) leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking to add a distinct aroma to rice and curry dishes such as nasi lemak, kaya ('jam') preserves, and desserts such as pandan cake. Pandan leaf can be used as a complement to chocolate in many dishes, such as ice cream. It is called Ambemohor pat in Marathi; Ramba in Tamil, Biriyanikaitha in Malayalam, pandan wangi in Indonesian, hsun hmway (ဆွမ်းမွှေး) in Burmese, pandan in Tagalog, ใบเตย bai tooey in Thai, rampe in Sinhala, ស្លឹកតើយ sleuk toi in Khmer, Daun Pandan in Nonya cooking, Dứa thơm/lá nếp in Vietnamese, 香草 ("Xiāng cǎo") in Chinese and बासमतिया पौधा [bɑːsmət̪ɪjɑː pɑʊd̪ʱɑː] "fragrant plant" in Magahi and Bhojpuri due to its fragrance.
Fresh leaves are typically torn into strips, tied in a knot to facilitate removal, placed in the cooking liquid, then removed at the end of cooking. Dried leaves and bottled extract (pandan essence, screwpine paste) may be bought in some places.