Elaeis guineensis; Syn.: Elaeis melanococca



Family: Belongs to the Arecaceae (Palmaceae) or Palm family, which includes Coconut (Cocus nucifera) and Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera).

Description: With the Coconut and Date palms, one of the three most important of the Palm family; stately, erect and handsome, up to 22 m tall (70 ft), usually less, with stout trunk, 30 cm diameter (12 in); leaves large, feathery and pinnately compound, 4.5-7.5 m long (15-24 ft), petioles (leaf bases) with saw-toothed thorns on margins; leaflets 100-150 pairs, 60-120 cm long (2-4 ft) and 3.5-5 cm broad (1.4-2.0 in); flowers set close to trunk in lower leaf axils, have separate male and female inflorescences, male in short clusters on inflorescence branches 10-15 cm long (4-6 in), female clusters are larger, bearing 200-300 flowers which eventually form the fruit bunches; fruits ovoid-oblong, about 3.5 cm long (1.4 in) and 2 cm wide (0.8 in), orange, red or black when ripe; palm oil produced from fleshy pericarp around seed; this oil naturally reddish due to high beta-carotene content; the more valuable palm kernel oil produced from white kernel within seed, similar to coconut oil; both oils high in saturated fatty acids, palm oil - 50%, and palm kernel oil - 80%; Gardens specimen, near Elmshall gate between cricket pitch and main road, is not known to fruit; fruit photos here are illustrative.

Natural Habitat: Thrives in hot humid climate on low-lying alluvial soil, ranging from savanna to rain forest, and on a wide range of tropical soils; propagation is by seed, germination in 4-8 months, but hastened by soaking in boiling water; bearing begins in 2-6 years, with full production between 12 and 30 years.

Origin and Distribution: Native to West Africa, especially S. Nigeria; introduced and cultivated throughout tropics, with plantations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Honduras and Columbia, among others; and sometimes seen as an ornamental, as in south Florida.

Government of SVG



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