Hainan Mirror: Pandan, naturally green

By / HIMC / Updated: 15:08,07-February-2023

As you pick up a clutch of pandan leaves and bring them to your nose, their unique fragrance is bound to delight. Pandan, called the “vanilla of the orient”, is used in Hainan, southern China’s tropical island province, mainly to add flavor and aroma to desserts, and was brought to the island in the 1920s by overseas Chinese returning from Southeast Asia. The seedlings (and the culinary applications of pandan) that they brought back with them rapidly took root in Hainan’s fertile ground.

Before long, the pandan plant was cultivated across Hainan, with this mainstay of Nanyang culinary culture being adopted into Hainan’s own. Unlike artificial colorings made with chemicals, the jade hue that juiced pandan leaves bring out in food is 100% natural. Compared with the greens of matcha and Chinese mugwort, pandan green is deeper, clearer, and brighter.

Despite being relatively fresh off the boat, pandan has proven a hit with many farmers across Hainan. It is grown in many places around the island, including Danzhou, Wenchang, Qionghai, Wanning, Lingshui and Ding’an, and is increasingly seen as a good cash crop by farmers. According to the latest figures, roughly 133 hectares are dedicated to growing these plants at present. A single pandan plant is productive for between 10 and 15 years, and its leaves can be harvested every two months. Pandan cultivation bases have now been established in Qionghai, Wanning, Wenchang, Tunchang and other places on the island, and thanks to research on cultivation methods, production efficiency continues to increase. With the rise in popularity of Southeast Asian cuisine in China’s major cities and the leaves’ host of health benefits, the market for pandan is expected to expand well beyond Hainan’s borders, enabling farmers in Hainan to stay well in the green while cultivating this bright green, fragrant plant.



Having questions about living or working in Hainan? Leave it below. 

Our Privacy Statement & Cookie Policy

By continuing to browser our site and use the services you agree to our use of cookies, Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can change your cookie settings through your browser.

I agree