Elaeis guineensis

Common name

African oil palm


Stem: Solitary, erect, to 15 m tall and 60 cm in diameter, sometimes bulging near the middle, covered with old, woody, ridged, somewhat triangular leaf scars. Leaves: Pinnate, reduplicate, with a graceful, arched rachis. The petiole is armed with spines along the margins, and the drooping, linear, green leaflets are irregularly arranged in clusters and spread in several planes. Lower leaflets wither, leaving sturdy midribs on a rounded base functioning as spines on the petiole. Flowers and fruit: Inflorescences are branched to one order and are 25-30 cm long. Staminate and pistillate flowers are produced on different inflorescences, but on the same palm at different times (males usually first) and may be cream to white in color. Fruits are up to 5 cm long, ovoid, and black or red.

Diagnostic features

Field: Solitary, erect, palm with stem sometimes bulging near the middle and covered with woody, ridged, somewhat triangular leaf scars; clustered, plumose leaflets.

May be confused with

Elaeis oleifera, the American Oil Palm, but this species is shorter, has a more creeping than upright stem, and leaflets that are regularly arranged and spread in the same plane


Native to wet areas of tropical Africa

Additional comments

The African Oil Palm is cultivated throughout the tropics, including Hawaii, as an ornamental street tree as well as an important source of palm oil.

Scientific name

Elaeis guineensis Jacq.




Elaeis guianensis Steud.

Last Updated May 2014