African Oil Palm
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African Oil Palm
ntroduced Photo: Dinesh Valke
Common name: African Oil Palm, macaw fat • Kannada: ಪರಂಗಿಈಚಲು Parangi Eechalu, ಎಣ್ಣೆತೆಂಗು Ennetengu, ಸೀಮೆತೆಂಗು Seemetengu
Botanical name: Elaeis guineensis    Family: Arecaceae (Palm family)
Synonyms: Elaeis melanococca, Elaeis madagascariensis

African Oil Palm is a tall tree, 8.3-20 m in height, erect, heavy, with ringed trunk. Male and female flowers occur in separate clusters, but on same tree. Trunk is up to 20 m tall, usually less, 30 cm in diameter. Leaf stalks are 1.3-2.3 m long, 12.5-20 cm wide, saw-toothed, broadened at base, fibrous, green. Leaves are compound, 3.3-5 m long, with 100-150 pairs of leaflets. Leaflets are 2-4 ft long, 3.5-5 cm broad. Central nerve is very strong, especially at base. Flower-stalks arise from lower leaf-axils, 10-30 cm long and broad. Male flowers are borne on short furry branches 10-15 cm long, set close to trunk on short stalks. Female flowers and consequently fruits are borne in large clusters of 200-300, close to the trunk on short heavy stalks. Each fruit is plum-like, ovoid-oblong, up to 3.5 cm long and about 2 cm wide, black when ripe, red at base, with thick ivory-white flesh and small cavity in center. Nuts are encased in a fibrous covering which contains the oil. About 5 female inflorescences are produced per year. Each inflorescence weighs about 8 kg, the fruits weighing about 3.5 g each. African Oil Palm is native the rain-forests of West Africa.

Identification credit: Dinesh Valke Photographed in cultivation in Mumbai & Pasighat.

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