Borassus akeassii

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Borassus (BOR-rahs-suhs)
akeassii (ah-keh-AHS-see)
Borassus ake-assii MS 1315.JPG
Fruits of the ake-assii, Burkina Faso, africa. Photo by Marco Schmidt.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Borassus (BOR-rahs-suhs)
akeassii (ah-keh-AHS-see)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

Borassus akeassii is found in Benin, Burkina, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast,
Mali, Arrière du Camp IRD, Batamani. Photo by Philippe Birnbaum.
Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Zaire. Restricted to West and Central Africa. Aké Assi and Guinko (1996) report that the palm is present in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. Borassus akeassii (as Borassus sp. aff. flabellifer) has also been recorded in Senegal and the Central African Republic (Arbonnier 2002). However, the range of B. akeassii may be much wider than suggested due to misidentification of the palm as B. aethiopum.

Johnson (1984) noted that Borassus aethiopum in Guinea-Bissau was used for wine production. He also noted that the palms have green, orange-sized fruits and both these facts suggest B. akeassii. This study can confirm the presence of B. akeassii in Burkina Faso and Senegal only. In addition, a specimen collected in southeastern Congo-Kinshasa (Liben 2822) has been identified as B. akeassii. The identification was based on the distinctive commissural veins (Bayton et al. 2006); however, the specimen included no fertile material. Sudan savannas with 800 – 1100 mm annual rainfall. In Burkina Faso, most populations are semimanaged for wine production. Seed is collected and planted and the palms often have crops planted beneath (usually cotton or cassava). (R.P. Bayton. 2007)/Palmweb.


Stem to 15 m tall, almost always ventricose, to 80 cm in diam., when stem marked by numerous irregular scars, this is caused by tapping. Leaves glaucous, 8 – 22 in the crown; petiole and sheath 90 – 160 cm long; petiole 3.0 – 7.4 cm wide at midpoint, green, margins with small serrate black teeth (0.2 – 0.6 cm long), or teeth largely absent; costa 22 – 28 cm long; adaxial hastula conspicuous, to 2.4 cm, abaxial hastula rudimentary; lamina rather flat, radius to 160 cm maximum, dense indumentum on the ribs of some immature leaves; leaflets 45 – 82, 2.8 – 7.3 cm wide, apices acute and entire or splitting longitudinally with age, shortest leaflet 58 – 147 cm long, leaf divided to 60 – 99 cm; commissural veins 5 – 7 per cm, leaf anatomy isolateral. Staminate inflorescences branched to two orders, upper subtending branches terminating in 1 – 3 rachillae; rachillae green-brown and catkin-like, 23 – 36 cm long, 2.3 – 2.5 cm diameter, usually with a mamilliform apex; rachilla bracts forming pits that contain a cincinnus of 5 – 10 staminate flowers. Pistillate inflorescences spicate or branched to one order; rachis ± 80 cm long, flower-bearing portion 24 – 39 cm long with ± 23 flowers arranged spirally. Staminate flowers 0.4 – 0.6 cm long, exserted from the pits individually or in groups of 3 – 5; bracteoles 0.8 × 0.5 cm; calyx 0.5 × 0.2 cm, shallowly divided into three sepals, petal lobes 0.2 × 0.1 cm; stamens 6 with very short filaments, 0.1 × 0.03 cm, anthers, 0.1 × 0.05 cm; pistillode minute. Pollen monosulcate, elliptical, 51 – 72 mm long, aperture 47 – 61 mm long, polar axis 49 – 61 mm long; tectum reticulate, densely covered with supratectal gemmae. Pistillate flowers 3.5 × 3 cm, bracteoles 2 cm in diam., sepals 2 × 2 cm, petals 1.5 × 1.5 cm. Fruits large, ± 15 cm long and ± 12 cm diameter, ovoid with a somewhat pointed apex, fragrant and yellowish green at maturity, produced inside persistent perianth segments; pyrenes 1 – 3, 6.8 – 9.3 cm × 5.4 – 7.5 cm. (R.P. Bayton. 2007)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.


Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: Borassus akeassii honours Professor Laurent Aké Assi (Abidjan University, Côte d’Ivoire) who, together with Professor Sita Guinko (University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) first distinguished the palm from B. aethiopum (Aké Assi & Guinko 1996). (R.P. Bayton. 2007)/Palmweb.

Conservation: Data deficient. Borassus akeassii may have a much wider distribution than is currently known. However, in the areas where it is known to occur, it is abundant and a significant crop for local people. Sambou et al. (2002; 1992) report that overexploitation is threatening populations of B. aethiopum in Guinea and Senegal, but it is possible that these refer to B. akeassii. In many cases, it is difficult to determine whether populations of B. akeassii are cultivated (i.e. planted) or merely wild plants that are exploited. (R.P. Bayton. 2007)/Palmweb.

Uses: In Burkina Faso, the main use for the palms is wine production, whereby the terminal bud is tapped to produce a sugary solution that is allowed to ferment. The undeveloped endosperm is also consumed, and the leaves are used for thatch and weaving. (R.P. Bayton. 2007)/Palmweb.

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Bayton, R.P.2007. A revision of Borassus L. (Arecaceae). Kew Bulletin 62: 561-586.

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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