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Pandanus (Pandanus odoratissimus L.)

Pandanus odoratissimus: Kewda (Kewra, Keora) flowers in Terai (Nepal)
Pandanus flowers in Nepal

botanicalPandanus fascicularis Lamk.
Assameseকেতেকী, কেতেকীফুল
Ketekiphul, Keteki
Bengaliকেওড়া, কেয়া, কেতকী
Keora, Keya, Ketaki
露兜樹 [louh dāu syuh]
Louh dau syuh
露兜樹 [lù dōu shù], 假菠萝 [jiǎ bō luó]
Lu dou shu, Jia bo luo
DutchSchroefpalm, Pandan
EnglishUmbrella tree, Screw pine, Screw tree
EstonianLõhnav pandan, Kruvipuu
GermanSchraubenbaum, Schraubenpalme
Gujaratiકેવડા, કેતક
Kevda, Ketak
HawaiianHala (P. tectorius)
Ha-pandanus (refers to entire genus)
Hindiकेवड़ा, पुष्प चामर, केओड़ा, पांशुका
Kewra, Kewda, Pushpa-chamar, Keora, Panshuka
HungarianPanpung víz, Pandánusz víz (pandanus water)
アダン, タコノキ
Adan, Takonoki
Kannadaಕೇದಿಗೆ, ಕೇತಕೆ, ತಾಳೆ ಹೂ, ತಾಳೇ ಹೂ
Kedige, Ketake, Tale hu
LithuanianKvapusis pandanas
Maithiliमाछा पालन
Macha palan
Malayalamകൈത, കൈനാറി, പൂക്കൈത
Kaitha, Kainari, Pukkaita
Manipuri (Meitei-Lon)কেতেকী, কেতুকী
ꯀꯦꯇꯦꯀꯤ, ꯀꯦꯇꯨꯀꯤ
Keteki, Ketuki
Marathiकेतकी, केवडा, केगद
Ketaki, Kewda, Kegad
Naga (Chakhesang-Chokri)Korong
Naga (Lotha)Shavo
Naga (Rengma)Akhago
Naga (Sumi)Amghobo
Nepaliकेउरा, केराडा, तारीका
Keura, Kerada, Tarika
Kia, Kiya
Punjabiਕਿਓਰਾ, ਕੇਉਡ਼ਾ, ਕੇਵੜਾ
Kiora, Keura, Kevra
RussianПанданус ароматнейший
Pandanus aromatnejshi
Sinhalaවැටකේයියා, රෑන
Mudukeyiya, Vatakeyiya, Rena
SpanishPandan, Pandano
Tamilதாழை, தாழம்பூ, கேதகை
Tazhai, Talai, Tazhambu, Talambu, Ketakai
Teluguగేదగ, కేతకి, గొజ్జంగి,
Mogheli, Mogil, Gedaga, Ketaki, Gojjangi
Thaiการะเกด, ลำเจียก, เตยทะเล
Karaket, Lamchiak, Toei thale
Urdu کیوڑہ, جمبالا, جمبول, پانشکا, کیتکی
Kiura, Kevara, Jambala, Jambul, Panshuka, Ketaki
VietnameseDứa dại, Dứa gỗ
Dua dai, Dua go
Shroyfnboym (refers to the entire genus)
Pandanus odoratissimus: Male kewda flower
Closed male kewra flower on tree
Pandanus odoratissimus: ALT
Open male kewra flower
Pandanus odoratissimus: Male pandanus flower
Open Male kewra flower on tree
Pandanus odoratissimus: Prop roots of kewra
Prop roots of kewra

In Euro­pean lan­guages, there is no dis­tinction between the South East Asian species yielding pandanus leaves and the South Asian species yielding pandanus flowers.

Used plant part

Male flowers. They are almost exclusively used in the form of an aqueous distillate called kewra water.

Plant family

Pandanaceae (screw pine family).

Sensory quality

Kewra flowers have a sweet, perfumed odour with a pleasant quality similar to rose flowers, but kewra is more fruity. The aqueous distillate (kewra water, pandanus flower water) is quite diluted; it can be used by the teaspoon, often even by the tablespoon.

Main constituents

The essential oil from pandanus flowers is dominated by 2-phenylethyl-methylether (β-phenyl ethyl methyl ether, 60 to 80%); minor com­ponents are the free alcohol, 2-phenyl­ethanol (β-phenyl ethyl alcohol) and its acetic acid ester; 2-phenyl­ethanol is also an important aroma component in rose water. Because it is well soluble in water, 2-phenyl­ethanol can be captured in aqueous distillates quite easily. (Indian Perfumer, 36, 93, 1992) Furthermore, monoterpenes have been found to contribute to the fragrance. The most important terpene in pandanus flowers is terpinene-4-ol (up to 15%); furthermore, α-terpineol, γ-terpinene and dipentene have been reported.

Pandanus odoratissimus: Screw palm tree
Pandanus tree with visible stilt root
Pandanus odoratissimus: Kewda Stem
Kewra Stem

The ripe fruits of P. tectorius owe their scent to an essential oil dominated by esters: Besides geranyl acetate, a couple of hemi­terpenoid esters were found: isopentenyl (3-methylbut-3-enyl) and, to a lesser degree, dimethyl allyl (3-methylbut-2-enyl) acetates and cinnamates. (Phyto­chemistry, 43, 1277, 1996)


Various species of the genus Pandanus grow in tropical regions of Asia, Australia nad the Pacific; one of those has fragrant leaves used as spice.

The species that yields the fragrant kewra water is P. odoratis­simus, which grows in large number along the Indian East coast. It is also found, in lesser quantities, along the Indian West coast and Sri Lanka. Further inland, it becomes rarer, but scattered specimen grow all over the plains of the Eastern half of North India, including the lowland of Nepal (Terai).

Some consider P. odoratissimus a fragrant subspecies of P. tectorius Parkinson, which is distributed much wider up to Australia and Polynesia.

Pandanus odoratissimus: Screw palm with unripe fruit
Pandanus palm with unripe fruit
Pandanus odoratissimus: Pandanus fruits
Pandanus fruits (ripe and unripe)

Cultivation of P. odorat­issimus is almost limited to the Indian union state Orissa, more precicely, the Ganjam district in Southern Orissa. The flowers, which are most abundant during the monsoon season, are havested early in the morning, as they lose their fragrance quickly after opening; thereafter, they are immediately subjected to hydro­distillation in one of the countless small distilleries found in the region. The distilleries mainly consist of a row of earthen pots that are filled with flowers and water, and a second, parallel rown of water basins used too cool the distillate, which is collected in copper pots immersed into that water. Distillation takes place in a closed apparatus without any control of temperature or pressure, the steam flowing from the heated erthen pot to the cooled copper pot in bamboo pipes that are sealed with mud.

The distillations yields several grades of essences: Addition of sandalwood results in a product called attar kewra which is the common grade in perfumery; the pure, rather costly essential oil is known as ruh kewra. Kewra water is a cheap byproduct of hydrodistillation suited for culinary use. Flowers of lower quality, as are common during the dry season, can be processed into kewra water only.

Some other Pandanus species are valued because of their edible fruits or their strong leaves, which can be used for plating.


See pandanus leaves. The English term screw tree and its analogues in many European languages are motivated by the arrangement of leaves typical for the genus.

Selected Links

Reisebericht von den Kewra-Destillerien in Orissa Sorting Pandanus names ( 2-Phenylethylacetat Kewda – Orissa’s Fragrant Floral King Recipe: Ras Gulla [रसगुल्ला] ( Recipe: Rasgulla [रसगुल्‍ला] ( Recipe: Ras Malai [रसमलाई] ( Recipe: Gulab Jamun [गुलाब जामुन] ( Recipe: Gulab Jamun [गुलाब जामुन] ( INDU-Versand

Pandanus odoratissimus: Group of Pandanus trees
Group of Pandanus palms
Pandanus flowers, stemming from a palm-like tree cultivated in India, have a delicate, floral scent and can be used to flavour foods, parti­cularly Northern Indian sweets. This flavouring must not be confused with pandanus leaves, which stem from a related species and are used occasionally in Southern India, but mostly in South East Asia, to flavour sweet rice dishes.

Pandanus water, distilled from male pandanus flowers, is popular in Northern India and mainly used to flavour the phantastic sweets Indians can prepare from so commonplace ingredients as milk and sugar. The most important milk products for sweets are evaporated milk and a type of Indian cheese: By boiling milk, one first obtains a viscous liquid called rabadi [रबडी]; boiling further, one arrives at a sticky, aromatic mass known as khoya [खोया]. Indian cheese is obtained by precipitating milk protein from boiling milk by the addition of some acid; in its raw form, it is called chena oder chhena [छेना] which can be made into a compact product called paneer [पनीर] that is chiefly used for savoury dishes. Chena may be replaced by a neutral brand of cottage cheese; instead of khoya, I usually employ a thick mixture of milk and dry evaporated milk.

Pandanus odoratissimus: Screw tree
Pandanus plant
Pandanus odoratissimus: Screw palm tree
Pandanus tree

Some com­mon Indian sweets, especially attributed to Bengali cuisine but available all over the country, are ras gulla [रस गुल्ला] (balls of chena and flour cooked in syrup), gulab jamun [गुलाब जामुन] (fried balls of khoya and flour served with syrup) and ras malai [रस मलाई] (chena balls in a rich, creamy rabadi sauce). In order to not waste the delicate scent, pandanus water is sprinkled over the balls just before eating; only the ras gulla are often let steep in pandanus-flavoured syrup for longer time, but in that case it’s important to have the container tightly closed. As an alternative, saffron may be used to flavour the milk-based ras malai sauce, but for the other recipes, saffron wouldn’t work so well.

Another application are the highly aromatic rice dishes the Moghul cuisine is famous for (biriyani, see cardamom). The most elaborate recipes sometimes call for kewra water to be sprinkled over the rice just before serving. In Central Asia and in the Gulf countries, where pandanus is unknown, similar rice dishes are often perfumed with rose water, which is also delicious.

Although pandanus trees grow almost everywhere in tropical Asia, kewra water is still mainly a Northern Indian flavouring that is not used anywhere else. Indian emigrants, however, have taken their likening for this flavour with them, and have transported pandanus trees to other tropical areas. In Western cooking, kewra water makes a fine alternative to the flower essences already in use, like rose or orange.

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