Elaeis guineensis

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Elaeis (eh-leh-iss)
guineensis (gwee-neh-EN-sis)
Picture 1192 male flowers.jpg
Vietnam. Male flowers.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Elaeis (eh-leh-iss)
guineensis (gwee-neh-EN-sis)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Dondo Angola, (Burmese): si-htan, si-ohn.

(Creole) : crocro, crocro guinee (English) : African oil palm, guinea oil palm, oil palm, wild oil palm (French) : corojo de Guinea, corossier, crocro, Crocro guinée, palmier a huile (German) : Ölpalme, Steinfrüchte (Luganda) : mubira, munazi (Malay) : kelapa sawit (Mandinka) : tango, tee, tego, tengo (Spanish) : coroco, corojo de Guinea, corozo (Swahili) : mchikichi, miwesi, mjenga (Thai) : pan namman (Trade name) : wild oil palm

(Vietnamese) : co dâu, dua dâu

Habitat and Distribution

Angola, Benin, Bismarck Archipelago, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Caroline Is.,
Hong Kong. Photo by G. Hengman.
Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malaya, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Society Is., Sri Lanka, Sumatera, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zaire. Native to W Africa, but planted throughout the tropics for its oil-rich fruits which are a major source of plant oil on a world scale (Hartley, 1977). In Ecuador it is grown in large plantations below 500 m elevation, particularly in the Santo Domingo-Quinind area.


Elaeis guineensis is a handsome tree reaching a height of 20 m or more at maturity. The trunk is characterized by persistent, spirally arranged leaf bases and bears a crown of 20-40 massive leaves. The root system consists of primaries and secondaries in the top 140 cm of soil. Leaves numerous, erect, spreading to drooping, long, reaching 3-5 m in adult trees; leaf stalks short with a broad base. Spiny, fibrous projections exist along the leaf margins from the leaf sheath, wearing away on old leaves to jagged spines. Leaf blades have numerous (100-160 pairs), of long leaflets with prominent midribs, tapered to a point; arranged in groups or singly along the midrib, arising sometimes in different planes.


Sunny, moist, but well drained position. Tropical in its requirements.

Comments and Curiosities

Hybrids between this species and Elaeis oleifera are easily made and six hundred hectares have been planted with hybrid individuals in Ecuador (Carrin & Cuvi, 1985). These plants have an erect stem and regularly inserted pinnae borne in one plane. (Borchsenius, F. 1998)/Palmweb. Editing by edric.

History of cultivation: E. guineensis, a native of forested portions of western and central Africa, particularly along rivers, has been spread across Africa by human migrations or intergroup exchange. It may have first been domesticated in Chad, taken to the Congo Basin and eastern Africa long before the arrival of Europeans, and to Sudan 5000 years ago. Africans probably took E. guineensis to Madagascar in the 10th century, the same time it is thought to have been established on the southern coast of Kenya, Pemba and Zanzibar.

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).

Borchsenius, F.1998. Manual to the palms of Ecuador. AAU Reports 37. Department of Systematic Botany, University of Aarhus, Denmark in collaboration with Pontificia Universidad Catalica del Ecuador.

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

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