An Eco-sustainable World
ArborealSpecies Plant

Elaeis oleifera

Elaeis oleifera

The American oil palm (Elaeis oleifera (Kunth) Cortés, 1897) is an arboreal species belonging to the Arecaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Liliopsida,
Order Arecales,
Arecaceae family,
Subfamily Arecoideae,
Cocoseae Tribe,
Subtribe Elaeidinae,
Genus Elaeis,
E. oleifera species.
The term is basionym:
– Alfonsia oleifera Kunth.
The terms are synonymous:
– Corozo oleifera (Kunth) L.H.Bailey;
– Elaeis melanococca Mart.;
– Elaeis melanococca var. semicircularis Oerst..

Etymology –
The term Elaeis comes from the Greek “élaion”, meaning oil.
The specific epithet oleifera comes from the Latin “olea”, olive and “fero”, to bring, in reference to its production characteristics.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Elaeis oleifera is a palm native to South and Central America, from Honduras to northern Brazil, where it is present in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Suriname.
Its habitat is that of open areas at low altitudes, preferably on sandy soils along river banks or in marshy areas at altitudes up to about 500 metres.

Description –
Elaeis oleifera is a monoecious, evergreen palm, with a single trunk, protruding or erect, with a diameter of 30-50 cm (but even more in nature), rooting in the part in contact with the ground; this is thickly covered in the younger part by the residues of the leaf petioles and peduncles of the inflorescences.
It is a plant that lives more than 100 years, but in cultivation it is only allowed up to 25 years, that is when it reaches 12 m in height. In its natural state it reaches more than 40 m in height.
The leaves are dark green pinnate, slightly curved and rotated towards the apex, 2-4 m long; they are carried by a 1-2 m long petiole which has margins provided with short and thick spines, with regularly distributed pinnules, 60-120 cm long and 4-8 cm wide, pointed, initially rigid, then hanging towards the apex, lying almost on one level. The inflorescences are formed between the leaves and are generally unisexual, but on the same plant, often produced alternately, there are female ones, 30-40 cm long on a peduncle about 40 cm long, compact, branched, and male ones up to about 60 cm, bearing white flowers.
Its fruit, called palm nut, is a drupe.
The infructescences are compact, large and rounded in the center and generally conical at the apex, very characteristic, ovoid or rhomboid fruits, 2-3 cm long, of an intense orange-red color when ripe, containing 1-3 seeds, weighing 3- 10 g, with fibrous and oily mesocarp 2-4 mm thick which constitutes 30-40% of the entire fruit; often there are parthenocarpic fruits without seeds, made up of about 90% of the mesocarp.

Cultivation –
Elaeis oleifera is an evergreen palm that is commonly exploited in the wild as a source of oil; it also has local medicinal uses. It is occasionally grown for its oilseeds and fruits.
It is a palm of the lowland and humid tropics, where it is found at altitudes up to 510 meters. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are between 20 and 30 °C, but can tolerate 14 to 34 °C.
It cannot tolerate temperatures equal to or lower than 8 °C and develops well in areas with dense vegetation and high rainfall; in fact, it prefers an average annual rainfall between 1,400 and 2,500 mm, but tolerates 700 – 3,500 mm.
The plants grow well in full sun and, from a pedological point of view, require a soil rich in humus and well drained, but it is not demanding regarding the type of soil; it prefers, however, a pH between 5.5 and 6.5, tolerating 5 – 7.3.
It is a slow growing palm and the plants can start producing as early as 3 years after seed germination.
Unlike its relative Elaeis guineensis, it is rarely planted commercially to produce palm oil, but hybrids are created between the two species, mainly in an attempt to provide disease resistance and increase the percentage of unsaturated fatty acids.
The plant reproduces by seed, which germinates in 3-6 months.

Customs and Traditions –
Elaeis oleifera is a palm known by various common names, including: American oil palm (English); palmier à huile americain (French); caiauà, caiaué, caraué, cayaué, dendé do Parà, dendezeiro do Parà (Portuguese – Brazil); corozal, carocito, colorada, corocito colorado, corozo colorado, nolé, noli, palmiche, palma de sego, coquito, palmique, yolí, corozo del Sinú (Spanish); amerikanische Ölpalme (German).
This palm, as mentioned, is rarely cultivated for commercial purposes because it is not very productive compared to Elaeis guineensis, even if the oil obtained is considered of better quality. The fruits are used in the natural distribution area to obtain cooking oil, make soap, as feed for pigs and to obtain a drink with the addition of water and sugar; the oil obtained from the endosperm is used for hair. The fruit contains 30 to 50% oil, composed of 56-67% oleic acid, 14-24% palmitic acid, 6-22% linoleic acid, 0.6-2% stearic acid and 0.1 -0.3% myristic acid, quite similar in composition to olive oil.
There is a growing interest in hybrids with Elaeis guineensis, in an attempt to give it greater resistance to oilseed diseases, slow growth and lower growth habit, which facilitates harvesting, and a high fatty acid content. unsaturated in fruits.

Preparation Method –
Elaeis oleifera is a palm from which two types of oil are obtained. Palm oil is obtained from the fruit while palm kernel oil is obtained from the seed. Both have a wide range of uses, including the production of margarine, ice cream and cooking oil.
The plant is used in the medicinal field.
The oil obtained from the pulp is applied externally in the treatment of rheumatism, to reinvigorate hair growth, fight dandruff and repel insects.
The hairs in the axils of leaves are said to be hemostatic.
The oil can be applied to the body as an insect repellent.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

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