Pandanus amaryllifolius (Pandan)

The Screwdriver Palm occurs in several hundreds of species around the Indian Ocean, mostly close to the shore, where it often forms inpenetrable jungles. Only one species, the True Pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius) is endowed with the vanilla like scent that has rendered this palm popular in South East Asia. Since a long time it is used for desserts and for staining sweets due to its intense green colour. Recently, Pandan has also attracted considerable attention here as so called Superfood – it is said to exert a strong antioxidant activity. Moreover it is supposed to reduce cholesterol, what might be linked with saponins and phytoestrogens. Pandan is traded as unprocessed leaves, often as frozen sorbet or as smoothie powder. Thus, surrogation is to be expected. In a project at the Botanial Institute we are currently investigating, who genetic barcodes can be developed into a PCR-based test to authenticate Pandan in commercial products.