The Pandanus palm is well used by the locals, where ever it grows. People use fruits for food and medicine, the leaves for weaving. In fact all Pandanus palms have this screw pattern of producing leaves, it’s not always clearly visible. The long hard leaves with their saw-like edges may cut you when touched.
Pandanus palm, vegetable dyes, ochres
baskets and mats are crafted by the women using natural fibres and dyes found in the area. Mats are woven from Pandanus Spiralis fronds. Pandanus grows in and around the local springs and is harvested from the tops of the tree where new tender leaves have just sprouted. The palm leaves are then stripped and Shredded into long strip ready for dying.
(The frongs are very spiky). The two main dyes are red colour and yellow colour, which come from Hemadorum (Mulubirtdi) and Corkwood (Gumurduk) respectively.
The bulbous Hemadorum roots can be harvested year-round for a reddish-brown dye. When the plant comes into flower about January, the women gather the new seeds which are used to make a deep purplish-red dye. The yellow dye is produced from the Corkwood tree rhizome, which is dug up and chopped off the root system. The raw materials are mashed to a pulp and boiled in a billycan to create the dyes. Then the fibres are soaked in the dye until the desired colour is achieved.
The baskets are made for carrying food and mats are for sitting on and are predominately made across the Top End of the NT.