|Hala fruit Quick Facts
|South Asia (south India, Sri Lanka), southeast Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines), eastward through Papua New Guinea and tropical northern Australia (the Port Macquarie area to Cape York and Torres Strait islands in Queensland) and extending throughout the Pacific islands
|Initially green with brown markings, turning to yellow with age
|Aggregate fruit, globose, sub globose, ellipsoid to ovoid, pineapple-like, large, 10–30 cm long by 8–20 cm across, comprising of tightly crowded, wedge-shaped fleshy drupes or phalanges
|Heart Health, Boost Energy Level, Relieve Headache, Digestive Health, For Menstrual Cramps, Weight Control, For Relaxation, To Floss the teeth
Few of the popular common names of the plant are Beach Pandan, Hala, Hala Tree, Pandan, Pandanas, Pandanas Palm, Screw Pine, Tahitian Screwpine, Textile Screw-Pine, Thatch Screw-Pine, Veitch Screw-Pine, Thatch screwpine, Pandang, pandanus, seashore screwpine and variegated screwpine. Genus name comes from the Latinized version of the Malayan name, pandan. Specific epithet means of the roofs of houses in reference to it being used for roof thatching. Common name of screw pine comes from the spirally arranged leaves (screw-like spiral around stem) and the pineapple like fruit which also resembles a large pine cone.
Hala fruit is a robust, small, laxly and widely branched, dioecious tree that grows about 4–14 m (13–46 ft.) tall and some may reach 18 m tall. The plant is found growing in strand line and coastal vegetation, including grassy or swampy woodlands, secondary forests, and scrub thickets developed on makatea (raised fossilized coralline limestone terraces). It commonly occurs on the margins of mangroves and swamps. The plant is adapted to an extraordinarily wide range of coastal soils, light to heavy, saline, infertile, acid or alkaline (pH 6-10), sodic, thin, infertile, basaltic, limestone, peaty and swampy sands, loams, clays and all combinations, free, impeded or seasonally waterlogged. The plant will tolerate water logging for at least 6 months and maybe year-round on certain soils such as peat and, being found on the margins of saltwater mangroves. The single trunk is slender with brown ringed bark. It is supported by prop roots that firmly anchor the tree to the ground. Roots sometimes grow along the branch, and they grow at wide angles in proportion to the trunk. The stem and branches are ringed with distinct undulating leaf scars sometimes with rows of prickles.
Leaves are glaucous, deep green, sessile, linear 1–3 m long by 11–16 cm wide, acuminate, tapering with sheathing bases and spiny midribs and spiny or smooth margins. Leaves are crowded at the top of stems and arranged in three spirals in a screw-like arrangement which gives rise to the common name. Some varieties have spines along the edges and ribs throughout the leaves. The leaves are spirally arranged at the end of the branches.
Pandanus tectorius is dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are borne on separate trees, with very different male and female flowers. Male flowers, known as racemes, are small, fragrant, and short-lived, lasting only a single day. The flowers are grouped in 3 and gathered in large clusters surrounded by big, white bracts. These clusters are about 1 ft. in length and are fragrant. Female flowers resemble pineapples. They occurs crowded together in globose, ellipsoid to ovoid heads, each carpel with 5–18 stigmas.
Fruit is an aggregate fruit, globose, sub globose, ellipsoid to ovoid, pineapple-like, large, 10–30 cm long and 8–20 cm across, comprising of tightly crowded, wedge-shaped fleshy drupes or phalanges. There are 1–15 carpels per phalange, and these are arranged either radially or in parallel rows. The central apical sinuses range from 1 to 28 mm deep. When ripe, the color of the basal section of the phalanges varies from pale yellow to dark yellow, orange, and orange/red. For complete fruiting heads the visible apical portion of the phalange is typically green with brown markings at maturity, turning yellow with age, after falling. The endocarp or pyrene (internal tissue surrounding the seeds) is dark reddish-brown, hard and bony. The mesocarp comprises apical and basal sections. The apical section formed in the apex of each carpel comprises an elongated cavity of aerenchyma cells consisting of a few longitudinal fibers and white membranes. The basal section is fibrous and fleshy, about 10–30 mm long. The seeds are obovoid, ellipsoid, or oblong; 6–20 mm long; red-brown and whitish and jelly-like inside.
Health benefits of Hala Fruits
Listed below are few of the popular health benefits of hala fruits
1. Heart Health
Consuming fiber rich hala fruit may well be good for the heart. It makes heart healthy alternative to regular processed snacks and according to some, it can help improve blood circulation. By improving circulation, it may protect against heart disease.
There is plenty of evidence that adding fiber to your diet can reduce the risk of heart disease as well as a number of other diseases. Systematic review of the link between cardiovascular disease and fiber intake published in 2013 confirmed that there was a significant link. They concluded that the intake of fruit fiber did indeed reduce the risk of heart disease and backed up all the recommendations to consume more dietary fiber.
2. Boost Energy Level
Hala fruit provides you with good quality nutrition that can boost your energy and prevent your body and mind from becoming fatigued. We could all do with a boost of energy at times and vitamin rich fruits like hala are a great way to encourage the system when you are feeling sluggish.
If your energy levels are low, try a glass of hala and coconut juice on the morning. This will give you a great boost of long-lasting energy.
3. Digestive Health
Like many types of fruit, hala is a good source of dietary fiber. The vast majority of people do not get enough fiber into their diet especially in the West where our diets contain far too many processed foods. Research specifies that more fiber can improve our health in a variety of ways.
It can help treat and prevent numerous common digestive issues like constipation, bloating, flatulence and even diarrhea. Research also suggests that adding more fiber to your diet may even reduce the risk of serious illnesses like cancer. Instead of eating empty calories that give you no value and slow down the digestive process, add some fruit like hala to your diet and gain the rewards.
4. For Menstrual Cramps
According to traditional use, consuming hala fruit can help females combat the monthly pains they experience as a result of their menstrual cycles. Although anecdotal evidence is not as strong as scientific research, it can often be relied upon and many studies have later backed up what the locals have known for centuries.
5. Weight Control
Eating fiber rich fruits like hala can help improve your digestive well-being meaning your digestive system will work more effectively. It can also help satisfy your appetite helping you feel fuller throughout the day. By feeling less hungry you are also less likely to snack on junk food and will consume fewer calories. In the long-term, this may result in gradual weight loss.
6. For Relaxation
Locals in Hawaii claim that hala fruit can not only confer physical benefits but can also improve your mental state. According to the locals, eating hala fruit can help to relax the mind and may ease some of the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Unfortunately, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the claim that hala fruit can help reduce your symptoms but we know that a good diet can help. This coupled with anecdotal evidence from the locals that eat the fruit suggests that it could help relax your mind.
7. To Floss the teeth
Nearly all parts of the hala plant are beneficial in some way so it is not surprising that the fibrous tips can be used to clean the teeth. Locals use these green tips to clean their teeth after meals and prevent particles from building up. They make for a great, natural toothpick or floss to keep your mouth clean and fresh following your meal.
8. Relieve Headache
According to traditional use and local knowledge, hala fruit can also help relieve painful headaches and migraines.
9. Boost Libido
According to the locals who have consumed it for thousands of years, hala fruit also has aphrodisiac properties. Many claims that herbs and other foods can improve your sex life that we tend to take them with a large dose of salt.
Traditional uses and benefits of Hala fruit
- All parts of P. tectorius tree have been used in traditional medicine in south and Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands.
- Pandanus is a very important medicinal plant, with certain varieties sometimes preferred for particular treatments.
- In Hawaii, the fruits, male flowers, and aerial are used individually or in combination with other ingredients to treat a wide range of illnesses, including digestive and respiratory disorders.
- In Kiribati, Pandanus leaves are used in treatments for cold, flu, hepatitis, dysuria, asthma, boils and cancer, while the roots are used in a decoction to treat hemorrhoids.
- In Palau, the leaves are used to alleviate vomiting and the root is used to make a drink that alleviates stomach cramps.
- In Ayurveda, leaves have been used for leprosy, smallpox, scabies, syphilis and leucoderma; and for filarial disease, leucorrhea and as emmenogogue in traditional Indian systems.
- In India, the male inflorescence is distilled to make an essence which is medicinal.
- Anthers of male flowers are used for treating earaches and headaches.
- Poultice of fresh leaves mixed with oil were used for headaches and a leaf decoction used for arthritis and stomach spasms.
- Pulverized dried leaves have been used to facilitate wound healing.
- Poultice of mash cabbage plant, mixed with salt and juice of Citrus microcarpa, for abscesses.
- Leaves are reported to be useful against leprosy, small pox, rabies and heart and brain diseases in Philippines.
- It was reported that an infusion of the pith of the plant was taken as antidote for poisoning in Peninsular Malaysia.
- Bark was scraped into a solution of wild ginger leaf and the solution drank to sedate mental patients in Papua New Guinea.
- Decoction of fresh or dried prop roots was drank as tea as a diuretic.
- Decoction of roots was believed to have aphrodisiac and cardio tonic properties.
- Roots were chewed to strengthen gums.
- Root decoction was used for arthritis and to prevent spontaneous abortion.
- Decoction of roots combined with sap of banana plant for urethral injections was used for a variety of urinary complaints.
- Roots are regarded as diuretic and used to treat oliguria and other urinary complaints in Vietnam.
- Fibrous nature of the fruit also serves as a natural dental floss.
- Leaves can be used to treat the hair and prevent dandruff.
- Leaves are good for the heart and can help reduce high blood pressure and might even help relieve stress.
- Locals use the leaves to treat premature ejaculation.
- Anthers are used for headache, earache and blood diseases, and the spadix juice for rheumatic arthritis in animals.
- Decoction of aerial roots use as beverage for cases of blennorrhea.
- In Palau, roots used to make a drink to alleviate stomach cramps. Leaves used to alleviate vomiting.
- In Vanuatu, a spoonful of grated stem bark mixed with a small cup of grated coconut flesh used to induce sterility.
- Pandanus tectorius fruits are edible and it is reported to form a major source of staple food in Micronesia including the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Kiribati.
- Pandanus is also widely consumed on Tokelau and Tuvalu.
- Chewing the ripe fruit segments (keys) is a common, pleasurable, and highly social activity in parts of Micronesia.
- Ripe red segments of the fruit are also roasted and lower fibrous parts are eaten.
- Seeds found in woody cavities in each segment can also be roasted and eaten.
- Juice and jam may also be prepared from the fruit.
- Juice pressed from the fruits is acid-sweet with a pungent flavor.
- It is being produced commercially in the Marshall Islands.
- Pandanus can also be made into flour that is consumed in different ways, usually prepared as a drink.
- Pandanus pulp is preserved in several different ways.
- Paste, which is compared to dates in taste, texture, and appearance, is made by boiling and baking the ripe segments, followed by extracting, processing, and drying the pulp.
- Preserved Pandanus pulp mixed with coconut cream makes a tasty, sweet food item.
- Cultivars with large amounts of pulp are preferred, and the taste and flavor differs among cultivars.
- In Marshall Islands male Pandanus flowers are believed to have aphrodisiac properties and are eaten as masticatory.
- Tree’s leaves are often used as flavoring for sweet dishes such as kaya jam.
- It is also used in Sri Lankan cookery, where the leaves are used to flavor a variety of curries.
- Pulp of the fruit is used as a flavoring for deserts, sauces, jam and chutney.
- Seeds are usually eaten after they have been roasted.
- Leaves are used to add fragrance and color to many savory dishes.
Besides the edible and medicinal uses of Pandanus tectorius, various parts of the tree have a countless of other important uses.
Pandanus is widely planted as an ornamental in home gardens, especially as a boundary hedge along front fences in the Pacific islands. When established on the seaward slopes and crests of frontal dunes, Pandanus helps to stabilize soil by binding the sand and prevent wind and water erosion. All parts of the tree may be used for production of compost, as well as in mulching and improving fertility and organic matter levels in sandy, coralline soils. In Kiribati, Pandanus leaves are used for mulching in giant swamp taro pits.
Dried aerial prop roots are used in making slats used for walls of houses and food cupboards, cordage, skipping ropes, paint brushes and basket handles. In Kiribati, fish traps are made out of the aerial roots and a black dye from the roots used in weaving.
Stems provide timber that is used in house construction, making ladders in the Marshall Islands; the trunk of one variety is used to make the masts of traditional canoes. Earlier, the wood was used to make lances and batons. The wood has many uses that include as headrests, pillows, and vases and as aid for string making and implement for extracting coconut cream. The trunk and branches are occasionally used as fuel wood where other fuel wood is scarce. Trunk provides a source of glue or caulking for canoes. Pandanus charcoal was used in various mixtures to dye and waterproof canoes. Trunk of female trees has been used to make water pipes after removal of the soft core.
In Hawaii, Pandanus leaves were traditionally used as the main material for making canoe sails. Pandanus leaves are used to weave traditional floor mats, baskets (including for ladies and to keep valuables), sugar bags, hats, fans, pillows as well as other plaited wares in Mauritius, Peninsular Malaysia and the Pacific islands. In the Philippines, the very strong and durable “sabutan hats” are made from young leaves; mats are also made from leaves. They are commonly used as thatching materials for walls and roofing in traditional houses. Young leaves, are reportedly used as fodder for domestic animals such as pigs and horses. In Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, the leaves are formed into a ball for use in a kicking game. In Micronesia, the leaves are used as wrappings for tobacco and cigarettes. In many Pacific islands Pandanus leaves are used to weave traditional items of attire, including mats for wearing around the waist in Tonga, as well as hats, fans and various types of baskets. Leaves, often neatly cut are used for making leis and garlands.
In South Asia, Southeast Asia and Polynesia, the male flowers and preparations derived from them are used to scent clothes, coconut oil and incorporated into cosmetics, soaps, hair oils, and incense sticks. Male flowers picked from uncultivated Pandanus are used alone or in combination with other flowers to perfume coconut oil in Polynesia. In Hawaii, the male flowers were used to scent tapa. The highly fragrant male flowers are widely used for decoration, and used in making garlands or leis. Pandanus constitutes one of the major bio-resources of Ganjam coast, Orissa in India; used mainly in small scale perfume industry for aromatic compound extracted from the male inflorescences. P. tectorius produce aroma of high quality and yield, composed of primarily phenyl ethyl methyl ether (66.8–83%) and terpinen-4-ol (5–12%) along with a number of other Phyto-chemical compounds. In Indonesia, the male flowers are used in religious and social ceremonies.
In the northern Pacific, the discarded, dried keys are much valued as fuel wood for cooking because they are slow burning and thus preferred for barbecues. Dried, exposed fibrous bristles of a dried key are used as a brush for decorating tapa, with the hard, woody outer end acting as a handle. A high quality, uniquely Pacific perfume is made from the aromatic fruits of selected traditional cultivated varieties in the Cook Islands. Fragrant fruits are also used in garlands and leis.
Side Effects of Hala Fruit
The same way as any other fruits, hala fruit might also have some side effects. There is no specific research about it. But in general, take attention to below points before decide to consume the fruit:
- People with allergically historical shall be careful before consuming the fruit. Try to taste a little bit and wait for some minutes whether it brings reaction or not. If allergically reactions such as rash, itchiness, red marks, nausea and other similar things happen, it is better to stop eating the fruit. Otherwise, your medical condition can be worst.
- There is no specific research about the fruit effects on pregnancy and breastfeeding. But to be sure, pregnant woman and breastfeeding mother is suggested not consuming this fruit. Since it might interfere the fetus and the baby medical condition.
- Too much consuming the fruit might give effects of diarrhea, since it has a high fiber. Thus, consume as necessary and be sure to eat the ripped fruit only.
- Do not consume the fruit while having medication, because it might interfere the effectiveness of your medicine. Some chemistry reaction can be happened and reduce the benefit of the medicine. Thus, it is suggested to consume the fruit after some hours of consuming any medicine to avoid any interference reactions.