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African Oil Palm: Elaeis guineensis


elaeis_guineensisElaeis palms are a members of a small Genus of ONLY two species of palms.  One species occurring in Africa and the only other in Central & South America.  Both species grow in "open" situations: such as along streams, in swamps and savannas.

They are stout-trunked palms, with heavily armed feathery fronds, which lack a crownshaft.  Separate male and female inflorescences arise among the leaves and the inflorescence is rather pronounced and densely packed with fruits.  The seeds and pulp of the fruit are very rich in OIL.   SINGLE PLANTS CAN PRODUCE FERTILE SEEDS!  One species is widely grown in plantations in the tropics for this natural lubricant.  Elaeis seeds take three to six months to germinate.  It often helps to crack , the seeds or soak them (in hot water) to aid in the breakdown of their hard outer shells, to speed-up germination.

CULTIVATION: Oil palms are generally easy to grow and adaptable as to soil types.  These palms definitely benefit from growing in FULL SUN, and realising that they are, indeed, massive palms, they should always be planted in an area where they have SUFFICIENT ROOM TO DEVELOP!

AfricanOilPalm2The African Oil Palm is native to numerous countries in tropical Africa, and has certainly become more widely distributed as a result of cultivation activities by humans.  One can expect best growing in USDA Climate Zone 10B, but African Oil Palms can be seen occasionally growing into Zone 9B in very protected locations.  Elaeis needs a seasonally dry climate when dormant, but appreciates copius amounts of water when it is in its active summer growth cycle. 

South Florida, The Caribbean, Hawaii, Queensland, Northern Territory, and most tropical parts of Central & South America are suitable regions for Elaeis guineensis cultivation.  The African Oil Palm can withstand SOME salt spray, so it can be included in coastal planting designs just back from the AfricanOilPalmbeachfronts.

Your efforts in planting an African Oil Palm, or two!!, will definitely be well rewarded with long-lived beauty & drama.  (You are planting a living palm "monument!")

Paul,"The Wise Gardener!"