Step 16: Pandanus Key Paintbrushes

The Pandanus tree has many uses. Hawaiians made sails and sleeping mats by braiding the leaves. Hawaiian "Lauhala", lau = leaves, hala = pandanus. The tree is also called "screw pine" by obsolete botanists.

The fruit is a big thing that looks sort of like a giant pineapple. It comes apart into sections called "keys". Chew on the orange part and suck the juice from them. Or pound them and wring out the juice to dry into a sort of fuit leather. It tastes like um, mango/cantaloupe, but I don't like it. I don't like it. A lot, cuz I once got really sick after eating them. Probably a coincidence, but food aversions don't care about logic.

The old fruit make good paintbrushes. I especially like them for epoxy glue. I feel bad about throwing away a commercial brush every time I glue something.
I picked up a bunch of old keys under this tree by the Mo'olele canoe shed in Lahaina, Maui. Rub them on a wire brush to soften up the bristles and dislodge any loose ones.

The best paintbrushes come from keys that get beaten by the surf and then wash up. Watch out for sand that comes out of the inner part of the key.
rsakamaki6 years ago
got it wrong here. Lau is leaf, hala is pandanus.
TimAnderson (author)  rsakamaki6 years ago
Mahalo Nui! My mistake, it's fixed now