Most of our products are handcrafted out of Romblon leaves (pandanus genus and called Pandan), a salt-tolerant type of screw pine found in many islands in the Western Pacific.
Romblon grows in abundance by the seashore and is a sustainable resource.
The sword shaped leaves are harvested leaving the plant to grow new leaves for future use. Once dried, the leaves are traditionally woven into sleeping mats, market bags and other useful items.
At Native Leaf, we create wine and gift bags, boxes, placemats and market totes using romblon leaves.
In the Philippines, there are over 50 varieties of romblon, with some types producing leaves softer and more pliable, depending on where it grows. There are also varieties that grow in Malaysia, Indonesia and Hawaii.
Romblon / Pandan leaves are super fragrant and used as a flavor ingredient and as green food coloring in Filipino Cuisine. Though most uses are for desserts such as custards, puddings and gelatin, there including pandan-wrapped fried chicken. Pandan is also an ingredient for teas and other herbal concoctions.
Other plants used in Native Leaf’s products:
Abaca (Musa Textilis)
Abaca is a giant herbaceous plant closely related to the banana. Though in the same family as bananas, the abaca plant does not produce edible bananas.
Native to the Philippines, it is valued for its super strong and flexible fiber (photo below of strips of abaca fiber drying via Philippine Dept. of Agriculture).
Its fiber is used for rope, cordage, twine, marine cable, pulp and specialty paper (hence, the name “manila envelopes” after the capital of the Philippines).
Note: See Native Leaf’s blog article about the history of abaca use as it relates to the American shipping industry, here.
Photo at left, traders at abaca warehouse, Manila, Philippines late 1800’s. Bales of abaca can be seen at bottom right of photograph. (Click on photo or the original article to see larger version)
Photo source: The Philippine Islands by Ramon Reyes Lala via the Gutenberg website, published in 1898 -Continental Publishing Company.
Abaca is also woven into textiles and is naturally lustrous in appearance. At Native Leaf, we create wine and custom gift boxes, market bags (from the plant’s outer peel), and textile mini bags.
All textiles used in Native Leaf products are hand-woven in backyard bamboo looms — a long process requiring much patience.