It’s not a pine. It’s not a palm. Instead, the Pandanus utilis, more commonly known as a screw pine, is one of the most exotic, drought-tolerant plants found in the Florida landscaper’s toolbox.
First of all, the “pine” has nothing to do with a fir being in its family tree. Instead, it refers to the edible pineapple-like fruits borne on female plants. “Screw” speaks to how the tree grows. The swirling nature of multiple trunks causes distinct, screw-like leaf scars.
The two things you’ll notice first about the screw pine are its aerial prop roots and an amazing bushy top that fans out with serious attitude. We say serious because while it’s beautiful to look at, you don’t want to mess with it. Touch those sharp red spines on the leaves and you’re screwed (just saying). You’re better off keeping it away from walkways or play areas.
Because this novelty plant can fan out to 10-15-plus feet of space, you don’t need a group of them. Not even a couple of them. These guys are best used as single specimens. Think of the screw pine as a living, one-of-a-kind sculpture that can grow up to 30 feet tall in full sun or partial shade. All it asks for is a granular fertilizer and some occasional trimming to remove dying leaves.
Eager to add this masterpiece to your Southwest Florida landscape? Talk to a professional designer first because the screw pine is one plant you can’t just plunk in the ground. You’ll need an artful plan, plenty of space and expert installation. After that, you’re good to grow. As a matter of fact, if you live in Sarasota, Manatee or Charlotte county, consider contacting the company who installed this lovely screw pine: ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design.