Know about African oil palm

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African Oil Palm Quick Facts
Name: African Oil Palm
Scientific Name: Elaeis guineensis
Origin Tropical rain forest region of West and Central Africa
Colors Green to orange
Shapes Ovoid-oblong, 3.5 cm long, 2 cm wide
African oil palm is a tree which reaches to the height of 20 meters or more at maturity. Trunk is distinguished by persistent and spirally arranged leaf bases and has a crown of 20 to 40 massive leaves. Root system has primaries and secondaries in top 140 cm of soil. Leaves are erect, numerous and reaches 3 to 5 meters in adult trees. Leaf stalks are short having broad base. Leaf blades have 100 to 160 pairs of long leaflets having prominent midribs tapered to a point and form in groups or singly along midrib. Male or female inflorescences form on one plant. A single inflorescence has both male and female flowers. An inflorescence arises among leaf bases in large and very dense clusters having innumerable small flowers enclosed in bud stage in two large fibrous bracts that becomes deciduous. Fruits form in bunches and the average weight of each bunch is 23 kg but may also weigh upto 82 kg. A bunch has ovoid drupes about 4 cm long and 2 cm broad having pointed apex.

Palm oil is obtained from fruits and used for making soaps, candles, cosmetics, biofuels and lubricating greases and in processing tinplate and coating iron plates. It is also used for manufacturing edible products such as ice cream, margarine, cookies, chocolate confections and breads as well as pharmaceuticals.

Plant description

African oil palm is a perennial and armed solitary palm about 8.5 to 30 meters tall, stout, erect and trunks are ringed. Flowers are monoecious; male and female flowers are found in separate clusters. Crown in dark green having skirt of dead leaves. Trunk is 30 cm in diameter.  Petioles are saw toothed, fibrous, green, broadened at base, 1.3–2.3 m long and 12.5– 20 cm wide. Leaves have pinnate blade, 3.3-5 m long having 100 to 150 pairs of leaflets in four ranks.  Fruit is ovoid to oblong about 3.5 cm long and 2 cm wide that ripen to orange red. Fruit weighs 6 to 20 kg and is made up of outer skin.

Medicinal uses

  • Use the leaf sap for treating skin affections.
  • Oil extracted from pulp is emollient and used as excipient for herbal ointments.
  • Use it for treating suppurations, swellings of legs and whitlows.
  • Yellow leaves are used for treating fever and anemia.
  • It can be used to remove thorns and poison from the body.
  • Roots are used to treat piles.
  • Take the root decoction or burnt root powder orally for treating epilepsy.
  • Mix infructesence with burned ginger and apply as enema to young children to promote walking at early age.
  • In South Eastern Nigeria, it is used for treating skin infections and various diseases.

Culinary uses

  • In Africa, palm wine is obtained by tapping sap from unopened male inflorescences.
  • The palm cabbage consists of soft tissues of undeveloped leaves around apical bud which is consumed as vegetables.
  • Palm oil is used for making margarine, bakery fats, vegetable ghee, cooking oil and ice cream.
  • Unrefined red palm oil is added to soups and sauces in West Africa.
  • Use palm oil as frying oil for preparing snacks such as plantain and bean cakes.






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