There are many species of Pandanus across Asia and the Pacific, but Pandanus tectorius, is the most common and useful of all of the species in French Polynesia. Pandanus is a monocot and as such the trunk is cylindrical and of equal thickness from the base to the top. It is supported by aerial roots that sprout above ground and form a pyramid under the trunk. The leaves, nested spirally, form a bouquet at the end of the branches. Pandanus is dioecious so there are both male and female plants. The male plants have flowers surrounded by very fragrant white bracts that protect an oval panicle covered with pollen. In Tahitian the flower is called hinano. The flowers of the female plants produce a large segmented oval fruit which, although unrelated, resembles a pineapple. As they mature the segments turn orange-red, separate, and fall to the ground.
The most popular use of pandanus however is for weaving. A huge variety of items can be made from the leaves which are long, flexible, and sturdy at the same time. They are used to make baskets, hats, thatched roofs, mats, and during traditional times the sails for voyaging canoes. Pandanus thatched roofs are preferred over those made from coconut palm leaves since they last longer.