Family: Arecaceae
Common Name: Oil Palm

This genus of palms comprises only two species, one from Africa, the other American, and is related to the coconut palm. Its fruit is reminiscent of the coconut as it has a hard, inner layer surrounding the seed, with three 'eyes' at the base. The flesh of the fruit yields an edible oil, also used in lubricants, and the African palm, in particular, has been widely cul­tivated for commercial purposes in the tropics. It also makes a handsome ornamental.


E. guineensis, African oil palm, is a single-stemmed palm growing to 20 m (65 ft) or more in maturity, though generally less in cul­tivation. It has a thick, straight, rough trunk, topped by a wide crown of large, plume-like leaves. The long, narrow leaflets are a glossy, deep green and the 3-4 cm (about 1½ in) long, blackish fruits are borne in short, dense clusters among the bases of the leaves. Oil is extracted from the seed kernel and the fruit pulp.


In frost-prone climates, grow in a warm conservatory or greenhouse as young foliage plants, in pots or tubs of soil-based pot­ting compost. Provide bright light but shade from strong sun. Propagate from seed after a week's soaking in water, and germinate at 24°C (75°F).


At least zone 10.

Elaeagnus      Elaeocarpus