Raphia palma-pinus

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Raphia (rahf-EE-ah)
palma-pinus (pahl-mah-PEE-noos)
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Marampa Mine, Lunsar (Sierra Leone), 20-10-2010. Photo by Warren McCleland.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Raphia (rahf-EE-ah)
palma-pinus (pahl-mah-PEE-noos)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary & clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names

Habitat and Distribution

West Africa, from Senegal and Gambia eastwards to Ghana, and Liberia. Raphia palma-pinus
occurs in thickets in swamps with fresh or slightly brackish water, often in swamps behind mangrove areas. It can form substantial populations. (PROTA)

Native: Benin; Burkina Faso; Côte d'Ivoire; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Liberia; Mali; Senegal; Sierra Leone Species present along the rivers of of western Africa from Senegal to Ghana (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone).


Monoecious palm, often clustering, with a trunk usualy 1–3 m tall, sometimes more, and covered with persistent leaf-bases. Leaves pinnate, 2–4(–8) m long, sheathing at the base; sheath short; petiole 0.5–1(–2.5) m long, channeled above, rounded below, smooth; rachis unarmed; leaflets linear-lanceolate, 50–80 cm × 2–4 cm, single-fold, acuminate at the apex, green-yellow, not shiny, lower surface waxy, margins and main veins with spines. Inflorescence axillary, pendulous, branched to 2 orders; flowering second order branches lax, rounded, 5–10(–20) cm long, with flowers in 4 ranks. Flowers unisexual; male flowers with tubular calyx with lobes half as long as tube, corolla lobes elliptical, stamens (8–)9–12, inserted on the corolla, free to the base; female flowers with tubular calyx, corolla campanulate, c. 12 mm long, with 3 lobes, staminodes 8, ovary superior, 3-celled, stigma sessile. Fruit ovoid to ellipsoid, (5–)8–9.5 cm × 3–4 cm, with a beak c. 5 mm long, covered with scales in 8–9 rows, 1-seeded; scales emarginate, fimbriate. (PROTA) Editing by edric.


Cold Hardiness Zone: 10a

Comments and Curiosities

Uses: Piassava fibre, mainly obtained from the petiole and leaf sheath of Raphia hookeri G.Mann & H.Wendl. and the petiole of Raphia palma-pinus, is used locally for making weather-resistant coarse ropes, belts for climbing oil-palms, and brushes, and is exported for the production of hard brooms and brushes. Piassava fibre is also used to make exceptionally strong paper. The leaves of Raphia palma-pinus are commonly used for thatching. The petiole and rachis are used as poles for making furniture items, such as chairs and beds, and in construction. The pith of the petiole and rachis is made into mats. In Senegal the fruits are considered a strong poison. (PROTA)

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

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

Special thanks to Palmweb.org, 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).

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

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