The Pandanus Palm (other names; Screwpine, Breadfruit and/or Wynnum) can be found along the coast line ranging from far north Western Australia (Yawuru country) all the way down along the top of Australia to the northern east coast of New South Wales (Bundjalung country). This wonderful palm has a variety of uses and was a real common food and equipment source for the tribes and clans living along these coastal regions.
Let’s start with the thick leaves; these were used to create baskets, mats and bags through the practice of weaving. In some case the leaves were also used as string.
The raw inner base of the roots can be used as a snack providing the people with nutrients such as water sugar and carbs if eaten.
The most predominant use of this palm is the fruit that develops at the end of each branch among the thick leaves. This bundle of fruit would drop when ripe and reach an orangy colour. The fruit have a nasty zap when eaten raw and can cause direct diarrhoea and stingy lips. Many Aboriginal customs were to bake the fruit on fire or hot coals which with heat extracted the toxic substance. Early in the 1800 to 1900 hundreds many Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander people developed an immunity to this toxin and were know to eat the fruit raw. The taste is like a very sweeten sweet potato (straight of the fire/coals).
The Nuts of the fruit are considered the best part as they provide a delicious nutty taste when roasted separately. These seeds were eaten commonly as they provided a large amount of fats (45-50%) and proteins (20-35%) per nut.