Pandanus, screw pine, or Pandan  is a genus of monocots with about 600 known species. They are palm-like, dioecious trees and shrubs native to the Old World tropics and subtropics. They are classified in the order Pandanales, family Pandanaceae.

Often called pandanus palms, these plants are not closely related to palm trees. The species vary in size from small shrubs less than 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, to medium-sized trees 20 m (66 ft) tall, typically with a broad canopy, heavy fruit, 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. These roots are adventitious and often branched. The top of the plant has one or more crowns of strap-shaped leaves that may be spiny,varying between species from 30 cm (12 in) to 2 m (6.6 ft) or longer, and from 1.5 cm (0.59 in) up to 10 cm (3.9 in) broad.


Pandanus Trees
A plantation of pandanus trees along the road at Yeme Village. Yeme is situated between Woitape Government station and Kosipe Mission station.

I might be selfish and quick to proclaim that this particular species of Pandanus trees are predominantly found in Goilala ONLY and nowhere else. I stand ready to be proven otherwise.

In Goilala, there are three languages. The Gunimaipas, Tauwades and the Fuyuges.

The Gunimaipa speaking Goilalas cover the Northen side of the District, sharing boarders with the Waria-Garaina folks from Morobe Province and also the Kaintiba-Malalaua folks from the Gulf Province.

The Tauwades are in the middle. But shares some bit of their boarder with the Sohe District of Oro/Northen Province as well as Morobe Patrol Post of Morobe Province.

Fuyuges on the other hand runs more or less parallel to the North Province starting from Sohe District in Popondettta down through to sharing land boundaries with the Koiari people in Central Province. The Fuyuges even has land that stretches down deep within the Kairuku Hiri electorate. Which is not the intention of this Blog Post. But as the picture shows, and according to GOOGLE, it seems Google knows something we dont know here in Papua New Guinea.


Goilala District Map
The District map showing the 3 different language groups

Pandanus trees, or “Karuka in Tok Pidgin” is grown all across Goilala. It is generally accepted that for Pandanus trees to survive, this particular species, it needs very large amount of rain fall. And Goilala District is naturally provides that in bucket loads. The climate, presumably has to be cold, moderately cold, with temperatures dropping to below 20 degree celsius. Goilala has a template climate, which during a normal tropical day, with cloudless blue skies, its humid and during nights, it can get chillingly cold.

Pandanus tree are champions of the cold climate and they can survive even if the temperatures drop below human survival ranges.

In Goilala, there are four types of Pandanus trees, which are normally used for consumption. Out of these 4, 2 are grown by humans, and the other two are wild. Those that are grown by humans are generally done by nursery seedlings germination whereby the nuts from a ripe pandanus is planted into selected spots to grow. These nuts can take up to 6-12months to be considered ready for transplanting.

The advisable stage to start transplanting these young pandanus trees is when they are up to knee heights. So even when these pandanus nuts has grown from the necessary, it is encouraged to let them grown fully before they can be transplanted. So the length of time it takes from planting selected nuts into a nursery to eventually planting these grown new pandanus tree can vary from 2-3years maximum.  Leaving the new pandanus trees to fully grow into knee heights guarantees its survival when transplanted. Planting young not matured new pandanus trees runs the risk of been over grown by bushes and dying of suffocation. Its advisable to let the young pandanus trees to reach near maturity and independent stages so when transplanted, they can survive even in harsh conditions where they are starved of sunlight and water.

After these newly transplanted pandanus trees are duged into the soil, they are left to grow. Its takes them another 3-4years to settle in, find their place and starts to grow. The owners have help these new trees to find their space.

The owners do so by clearing bushes, cutting down overgrown trees nearby and any vines and shrubs that is deemed blockades to the pandanus trees chances of getting sunlight. [see picture]

Young Pandanus Trees
Young Pandanus Trees after been transplanted from their nurseries, grown into this stage but bushes and trees and shrubs and vines has to be cleared to allow sunlight to reach them

The advantage of pandanus trees is its not labour intensive. The amount of time employed from seedlings been put into nursery, to transplanting young and ready pandanus tree ointo selected land plots and clearing of bushes to enable the young pandanus trees to get access to ample sunlight is not demanding.

The major disadvantage associated with pandanus trees is, once a plot of land is assigned to planting pandanus, that piece of land is no longer available for farming of any sort. The roots of pandanus trees are so huge and spreads out and cover soil completely that planting of food crops of any sort becomes a near impossibility. The only time this plot of land becomes available again is when these pandanus trees are old and chopped or burnt down.  After these pandanus trees are burnt or chopped down, nature is allowed to take charge of the land beneath and over a year or two the land then becomes available for use.

Matured Pandanus trees at Yeme, Woitape LLG, Goilala
Padanus Trees
Pandanus Plantation at Yeme

There is no written MANUAL or HOW_TO_DO handbook which dictates the way in which these germination to transplanting to caring of new and young pandanus trees are followed. All these guidelines, how_to_do advise and techniques are been passed down from generation to generation. [word mouth]

Having said that, there is no new, improved, scientifically confirmed and advisable tutoring on the way new pandanus trees should be nursed, and transplanted.

This might be because of the fact that this species of pandanus trees and their nurserying methods and techniques are a dying practice that after a generation or two will disappear into oblivion. It’s a dying way of life. That if not documented can disappear with time.




  1. Karuka, or Kuvep [for small one] & Kurup [for the larger one] in my tawade tounge is best eaten when placed in the mumu and smoked…they say its the highlands coconut…Go to Gordans Market, its there!

  2. Thanks Anthony, that was a good description…We still need some expert botanist to go study the different species we have to confirm how many we have, and if they are genuinely endemic to our locale.




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