American Samoa Territorial Flower
Pandanus (common name)
Pandanus tectorius (scientific name)
American Samoa’s unofficial territorial flower comes from the pandanus tree, locally called lau fala, ula-fala, or paogo. The plant is probably originally Polynesian, but it’s cultivated throughout Southeast Asia and India. The leaves or an extract from them are commonly used to flavor foods. Male trees produce clusters of very tiny and fragrant white flowers that last for only a day, though an individual tree may flower for three to four days. Samoans use the male flowers to perfume oil or cloth or make garlands and other decorations.
Female flowers are larger and look like pineapples, with compact green heads and pistils covered with colored scales. Male trees flower every year, and females every other year. Pollinated flowers produce round to oval fruits 1.6–7.9 in (4–20 cm) wide and 3.1–12 in (8–30 cm) long. Each fruit is made up of 38–200 long, narrow wedge-shaped units called "keys" clustered solidly together. Each has a fibrous outer husk and contains seeds, usually two. Individual keys can float, so seeds often travel between islands.
Crabs, fruit bats, and birds eat the fruit and also disperse the seeds. The fruit can also be a source of food for people, though the keys are small and preparing enough of them to eat is a long process. The tree’s trunk has spines. The dark green leaves have spiny edges and grow in spirals in three rows, clustering at the ends of branches (though some varieties, including the Samoan lau fala, are spineless).
Plant: Large bushes or small trees with long, narrow leaves and forked trunks
Mature Height: 13–46 ft (4–14 m) tall
Flowers: 1/8–1/4 in (3–6 mm) long in 1–2 ft (0.3–0.6 m) hanging clusters
Flower Color: Yellowish white
Leaves: 3.0–4.9 ft (90–150 cm) long and 2.0–2.8 in (5–7 cm) wide with saw-like margins
Fruit/Seed Color: Red to yellow
Location: Coastal and near-coastal forests, tolerates varied soils.
Range: Throughout southeast Asia
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|Author: World Trade Press|