Taxonomic name: Elaeis guineensis Jacq.
Synonyms: Elaeis melanococca J. Gaertn.
Common names: African oil palm (English), apwiraiasi (Pohnpei), dendê (Portuguese-Brazil), nu tamara (Cook Islands, (Mangaia)), palmeira-dendê (Portuguese-Brazil), palmier à huile d'Afrique (French)
Organism type: palm
Elaeis guineensis is native to the west African coast from Liberia to Angola. It has been introduced to many islands in the Pacific and to South America at the time of slavery. It is widely cultivated for the oil products obtained from its fruit and seed. However it is now showing potential of being invasive from cultivation in some dry areas of the Pacific and has become very invasive in remnants of Atlantic Forest in Bahia state, Northeast Brazil.
"Trunk stout, solitary, covered by the persistent leaf-bases above, bare below, dark gray-brown and ringed. Leaves large, pinnate, the lower segments as spines on the petiole margin; segments many, irregularly divergent, somewhat fascicled in 4's or 5's; inflorescence large, headlike, with spinose tipped branches borne close to the trunk, among the leaves" (Stone, 1970. In PIER, 2003).
natural forests, ruderal/disturbed
In its native range it occurs wild in riverine forests or in freshwater swamps (Duke, 1983). It cannot thrive in primeval forests and does not regenerate in high secondary forests. Prefers volcanic soils, coastal alluvials and acidic sands (Duke, 1983).
Cultivated for oil from the fruits - palm oil and palm kernal oil. The oils are used variously in manufacturing and foodstuff production.E. guineenesis is also often used as a source of Vitamin's A and B in developing countries (Duke, 1983)
Native range: The native range extends from Guinea to the river Senegal (12 0N); to the South up to Angola (16 0N) and to the East up to Alberto Lake. Populations are also found in Madagascar, but due to their isolation they are quite different (León, 2000).
Known introduced range: Cook Islands (Mangaia, cult.), Federated States of Micronesia (Chuuk (Dublon), Pohnpei), French Polynesia (Tahiti and Raiatea, cult.), Guam, Hawai‘i (cult.), Niue (cult.), Palau (Babeldaob and Koror, cult.).
Introduction pathways to new locations
Agriculture: Introduced and cultivated throughout the tropics. (Duke, 1983)
For ornamental purposes: Sometimes grown as an ornamental, as in southern Florida. (Duke, 1983)
Physical. The trees are cut down, (PIER, 2003). The palm however, resprouts after cutting, so there has to be complementary chemical control (Ziller, S., pers.comm., 2004).
The African oil palm requires fertile and well drained soils (León, 2000).
Seeds, (PIER, 2003).
First fruits 3-4 years after planting in the field. Bunches ripen 5-6 months after pollination. Seeds normally require temperatures in excess of 35 degrees to germinate. (Duke, 1983)
Reviewed by: Jean Maley Dept. Paléoenvironnements & Palynologie Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution (CNRS) Université de Montpellier-2, Montpellier, France
Dr. Andreas Ebert Coordinator, Plant Genetic Reso
Compiled by: IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Thursday, 26 January 2006