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Wednesday, February 01 2023
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Hala fruit: The fruit that looks like exploding planet

hala fruit
Photo Credit : Wikimedia

The Hala fruit is a large edible fruit made up of numerous segments called keys or cones. The innards of each key are pulpy, while the green outer edge is so fibrous it can be used as dental floss. The Hala is found in Southeast Asia, eastern Australia, Pacific Islands and Hawaii, also called the Tahitian screw pine or thatch screw pine.

The Hala fruit tree is one of the 750 or so trees that belong to the Pandanus species. The Hala fruit tree can reach up to 14 metres in height, with a spiny trunk that grows between 5 to 11 metres in width.

Hala fruit is available year-round in select tropical to subtropical climates. Due to the fact that they are not commercially grown, they have remained primarily localised to their native growing regions and are difficult to find. Even though some seeds were taken and planted in Florida and other select tropical areas, most of the fruits are found in their native habitats.

The Hala fruit itself has a delicate, sweet taste, similar to the paste made from the leaves. It is eaten fresh, boiled or ground into a paste, or squeezed into juice. Hala fruit juice is incorporated into smoothies, cocktails or other tropical beverages, or it is cooked into syrups and glazes to drizzle over desserts such as cakes, ice cream, or pastries. The juice can also be used as a flavouring in baked goods and desserts.

One unusual element of Hala fruit is isoamyl acetate, an organic compound naturally found in the flesh. This compound is used to make artificial banana flavouring in candies and culinary goods, giving the fruit’s flesh a subtle banana taste.

Apart from the fruits, Hala leaves are used among some populations as a flavour and fragrance enhancement to sauces, curries and stews. The leaves are also used to flavour meat dishes. Hala fruit pairs well with other fruits such as papaya, coconut, pineapple, mango, citrus, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, and pandan leaves. Ripe Hala fruits should be immediately consumed for the best quality and flavour.

Traditional Hawaiian cultures use the Hala tree for medicine, dye and food. They apply and consume the roots to treat illnesses and braid the leaves into a variety of household items. Though only female trees bear fruit, males produce their own useful substance.

Early Hawaiian cultures powdered the trees’ fragrant, yellow pollen on their bodies and beds as an aphrodisiac. Hala or Pandanus trees have been valued by the Hawaiians for their useful nature. The leaves were woven into placemats, baskets, canoe sails, and protective roof coverings, and the pollen of the flowers was mixed into meals, sprinkled onto linens, or rubbed on the skin as a natural libido enhancer.

Hala fruit is a source of fibre to regulate the digestive tract and beta-carotene, a compound converted into vitamin A in the body assists in maintaining healthy organ functioning. The fruits also provide calcium and phosphorus to build strong bones and teeth, iron to develop the protein haemoglobin for oxygen transport through the bloodstream, vitamin C to strengthen the immune system while reducing inflammation and other antioxidants that protect the cells against the damage caused by free radicals.

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Thilak T. Shetty

The author is a BA Sociology  graduate. He is into poetry and literature. His varied interests include Literature, Music, Culture, Politics, Philosophy And Nationalism studies.

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