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This is an Old World, tropical family represented in Australia by two genera. Several species of Freycinetia are found in rainforests of north Queensland, while Pandanus is larger and more widespread, occurring from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, through tropical Northern Territory and Queensland to northern New South Wales, on coastal headlands, in monsoon forests, fringing rivers and streams, and on the edges of rainforests.

Characteristic features of the family Pandanaceae in Australia include:

  • woody climbers (Freycinetia) or stout, branched or unbranched trees often with prop roots
  • leaves spirally arranged (often very distinctly so), more or less linear or sword-shaped with stout marginal prickles
  • flowers unisexual, without a perianth, aggregated into dense heads
  • fruits large, prominent, comprising an elongate or globular head of close-packed berries or drupes (Freycinetia and Pandanus) or a brightly-coloured, pineapple-like, more or less woody compound fruit (Pandanus).


Evergreen trees, or shrubs, or woody vines climbing by root suckers. Vegetative reproduction absent, or by stolons. Internal secretions not obvious. Plants glabrous. Leaves alternate and spiral, petiolate. Stipule-like lobes absent. Lamina simple, symmetric, filiform, acicular, subulate, linear, lanceolate, ovate, oblanceolate, obovate or oblong; base lobed or auriculate; margins entire or spiny, ±flat, revolute or recurved; venation parallel, with the midrib conspicuous, and the tertiary venation not reticulate; surfaces not punctate; leathery. Leaf ligule absent. Male and female flowers occurring on separate plants. Inflorescences terminal, consisting of spadices, racemes or umbels. Spathes present. Bracts present. Pollination by insects, birds, bats or wind. Flowers odourless; sessile. Floral disc absent; nectaries absent. Perianth absent. Fertile stamens 1–numerous, distinct from each other or fused by their filaments into an open or closed tube, all ±equal. Staminodes vestigial or absent. Anthers basifixed, not versatile, opening by longitudinal slits, 2- or 4-celled; appendages apical. Carpels 130, free or fused, fully or incompletely closed; ovary with 1 locule. Style terminal, branching from the base, or absent with the stigma ±sessile on the ovary. Ovules 112 (24), sessile; placentation parietal. Fruit fleshy, indehiscent; an aggregate of berries or drupes. Disseminule micro-surface ±smooth or papillate, white, yellow, orange, red, pink, green or brown, without contrasting markings, or conspicuously patterned, glossy or dull. Seeds 112 (24) per fruit. Aril absent. Cotyledons 1. Embryo straight.
(Note: this description has been generated from the coded data compiled for the key. Any errors in the key data will be reflected in the descriptions.)

A treatment of the family Pandanaceae has not yet been published in the Flora of Australia. It will appear in Volume 39.

Australian genera of Pandanaceae (as recognised for the Flora of Australia)


Freycinetia baueriana (flowers)
Photo: M.Fagg ANBG 

Freycinetia excelsa (flowers)
Photo: M.Fagg ANBG 

Freycinetia scandens (fruits)
Photo: G.Butler ANBG 

Pandanus aquaticus (habit)
Photo: J.Wrigley ANBG