Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: African oil palm, Guinea oil palm Kwamba: Esa, mba Luganda: Mubira,munazi.

+ Tree Species

Elaeis guneensis

+ Tree Family

Arecaceae (Palmae)

+ Ecology

Elaeis guneensis is a palm found throughout the wetter parts of Africa; origin centered in West Africa. It was introduced to Java in 1848 and is now economically important in Malaysia as well as in West Africa. In East Africa the palm is confined to some habitats in Tanzania, irregularly along the coast and in Uganda in the swamp forests of Bundibugyo District (900 m) and in high-rainfall gallery forest in Mongiro Forest of the eastern Semliki valley (760m). It is the principal source of palm oil. In Kampala, African oil palm can be found at Acacia avenue, Buganda road, within Uganda Golf course club, National housing & medical quarters, Makerere University among other places.

+ Description

A thick palm usually to 15 m, the wide bole 30-50 cm in diameter covered with the remains of leaf bases. It has a massive untidy crown of shiny drooping leaves, and loose brown fibers at the base. Mature palms are single-stemmed and the palm tree is topped by a crown of about 40 - 60 live dark green leaves that can be up to 8 meters long, and a skirt of dead leaves.A young palm produces about 30 leaves a year and established palms over 10 years produce about 20 leaves a year.

BARK: The trunk is stout, erect, solitary, covered by the persistent leaf-bases above, bare below, dark grey-brown and ringed.

LEAVES: large and pinnate, 3-4 m, 40-50 in a maturecrown. The leaf stalk bears 100-150 folded leaflets each sidegrowing out irregularly in two planes, the whole leaf feathery, about 120 cm long and 8 cm across. Leaf stalks wider at the basewith sharp fiber-spines along the edge.

FLOWERS: They arise besideleaves, often before a trunk develops. The massive goldenflowering heads, 15-20 cm, male or female. The male flowers are tiny,aromatic and yellow; female almost round, larger, central joinedstyles-stigma 1 cm across.  Reproduced in dense clusters; each individual flower is small, with three sepals and three petals.

FRUIT: They are just above the short trunk, bigbunches, each fruit shiny, green turning bright orange, 3-5 cm, plum-like, ovoid-oblong, upper partsdark red to black, tipped by old style. Below the outer skin is ayellow oil-rich layer 5-10 mm thick. One dark seed lies in thecenterwith thick ivory-white flesh and small cavity in center, also rich in oil. The nuts are encased in a fibrous covering which contains the oil.

+ Uses

An ornamental (avenue tree).

Edible: Palm oil and whilst palm kernel is obtained from the fruit and seed respectively.

Palm oil is used in making margarine, vegetable ghee, bakery fats, ice cream and as a cooking oil and palm kernel oil is similar in composition and properties to coconut oil, which is used in making margarine, ice cream, confectioneries and as a cooking oil, where it is sometimes combined with coconut oil, boiled and pounded nuts yield palm nut butter, a thick red liquid, the plant also provides heart-of-palm, where the soft portion of the apical bud is eaten as a vegetable, palm wine is produced by tapping the unopened male inflorescences, or the stem just below the apex of felled oil palms, and fermenting the sap. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Elaeis+guineensis 

Medicine: roots, leaf sap, leaves, palm heart, oil from the pulp. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Elaeis+guineensis

Young leaflets produce a fine strong fiber, used for making fishing lines, snares and strainers.

Agroforestry: used in rehabilitating degraded areas.

The seed shells are polished and carved into ornamental rings and beads.

The seed shells are much appreciated by local blacksmiths as a high calorific fuel for furnaces.

It is technically possible to produce from palm oil either carbohydrates for conversion to alcohol or a methanolizable oil as a diesel substitute.

The empty bunches, fiber and also the effluent (0.5 t sludge for each t of milled fruit bunches) from the oil mills can be converted into products such as organic fertilizers.

The trunks and leaves are used for house construction Palm fronds are useful for thatch.

The leaflets are often woven into baskets and mats; the leaflet midribs are made into brooms and the rachises used for fencing.

The mesocarp and the oil extracted from the mesocarp (red oil) are used for cooking.

The sweet sap may also be transformed in syrup, sugar and alcohol.

The oils are used in manufacturing and foodstuff production.

Palm trunks, available at replanting, provide excellent material for paper and board production, but this has not yet attracted much commercial interest.

+ Propagation

Seed, wildings. Natural regeneration is common

+ Management

Initial tending is necessary in plantations. Since the tree is single-stemmed, and palm trees are generally unable to produce side branches, harvesting this bud leads to the death of the tree.

+ Remarks

Orange palm oil from the outer flesh is moderately un saturated; more valuable saturated oil comes from the seed kernel. These area major world source of vegetable oils and are processed for cooking, soap and margarine manufacture and are a majoring redient in many food products. Palm wine is made from the sugary sap tapped near the growing stem tip, from the flower head or the base of the stem. In plantations, the tree bears fruit in 3-4years and continues for about 25 years. In Malaysia a weevil which carries pollen from male to female flower heads has been introduced and greatly increased yields. The wood is not durable in the ground.

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