Select. Stirp. Amer. Hist. 280 (1763)
Canopy palm. Stem solitary, erect, to 10 m tall, ca. 30-50 cm in diameter. Leaves to 5 m long; pinnae 100 or more on each side, inserted in groups and spreading in different planes. Fruits glossy red to black.
Native to W Africa, but planted throughout the tropics for its oil-rich fruits which are a major source of plant oil on a world scale (Hartley, 1977). In Ecuador it is grown in large plantations below 500 m elevation, particularly in the Santo Domingo-Quinindé area.
Hybrids between this species and Elaeis oleifera are easily made and six hundred hectares have been planted with hybrid individuals in Ecuador (Carrión & Cuvi, 1985). These plants have an erect stem and regularly inserted pinnae borne in one plane.
Frequent as an ornamental palm in town squares etc. up to 1000 m elevation
(Borchsenius et al. 1998).
This is one of the most important oil producing crops in the world
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