African Oil Palm

​​​​​​​​African Oil Palm

  • Common Name: African Oil Palm
  • Scientific Name: Elaeis guineensis
  • Family Name: Arecaceae
  • Origin: West Africa
  • Height: Up to 50 ft
  • Width: Up to 60 ft
  • Growth: Slow
  • Zone: USDA Zones 10 through 12
  • Light needs: Full sun
  • Salt tolerance: Moderate
  • Soil/pH/Texture: Tolerates a wide range of soil types and texture. Organically rich soils are preferred. Although the soil should retain moisture, it should also be well-drained. The soil pH should be slightly acidic, between 5.5 and 6.5.
  • Moisture: Soil should remain consistently moist. Somewhat tolerant of flooding. Tolerant of high humidity.
  • Drought tolerance: Low
  • Pests/Diseases: No major pests or diseases.
  • Growing conditions: This palm likes open, sunny conditions, with plenty of moisture and humidity. Although it can withstand some flooding, it will not tolerate long periods of standing water, so it should ideally be planted in an elevated, well-drained area. It can also be grown indoors in an area with bright, indirect light.
  • Characteristics: This palm is a slow grower. It spends its first two years widening its trunk underground until it is about 30 inches in diameter. After this point, it will begin to grow upwards at a rate of around 30 inches per year. The arching, green, pinnately compound leaves are arranged spirally around the trunk. Each leaf is 3 to 7 ft long and may contain up to 350 leaflets. The flowers grow in clusters, with each plant bearing both male and female flowers. The drupe fruits take up to 6 months to develop and are red and fleshy.
  • Propagation: By seed
  • Wildlife: The fruit is an important forage source for many wild animals due to their high fat content. The oil palm is pollinated by specialized weevils.
  • Facts: It is a very economically important plant, as it is used to produce palm oil. The oil is extracted from the fruit.
  • Designer considerations: It is typically used for harvesting purposes rather than in landscaping. However, it is a good specimen planting once fully grown, both for its tall stature and economic importance, which makes a good conversation starter. It is sometimes planted along walkways and roads to add shade and a tropical ambience to the area. 


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