Discover the African Palmyra Palm,
Borassus aethiopum, the Colossal Fan Palm,
Our Palm of the Month!
This month's PALM OF THE MONTH, is the mammoth Palmyra Palm. It is a palm of strength, beauty, and in its native range, a viable source for nourishment of its citizenry! It is the storied signature palm of the African savanna, and soothes the eyes of the apparent bareness of the torrid grasslands.
Its Size: 15 to 18 metres
Min. Temperature: 22°F to 28°F (-6°C to -2°C)
Water Requirements: Regular watering required!
Sun Requirements: Light shade preferred when young.
Origin: Togo, Nigeria, India, Malaysia, & Senegal
Germination: Seeds take 2 to 4 weeks to germinate. The seed first emit a long tap root (often over 2 feet - 60 cm), requiring a deep pot.
Trunk: smooth, grayish
Fruit: Black when ripe, orange flesh...6 inches long, 4 inches in diameter 15x10 cm), about 6 pounds (3 kg). Oblong.
Seed: 4 inches long (10 cm). roundish, covered with fibers.
The Palmyra Palms are dioecious, only the female trees bear fruit. The palm trees are tapped for juice. In some regions, the technique either involves the lateral portion of the young stem and does not kill the tree. In other African regions (as in Senegal), the trees are often tapped to death after several months. The fruit is eaten, as are the flowers and the root.
B. aethiopum are native to Africa and prefer well drained soil and do not take cold very well.
Two Borassus aethiopum at Fairchild Tropical Garden blown over by Hurricane Andrew. These two huge specimens were later righted and braced.
Photo by Will Houghton
Sub Family : Coryphoideae
Family : Palmae
Plant Type : Palm
Common Name : Palmyra palm or Toddy palm
Malaysian Name : Lontar
Features : Widely cultivated and fabled palmyra or toddy palm of India where it finds hundreds of uses, for food, black timber, sugar and toddy.
Fruit : Female trees with big 12-20cm edible fruit: yellow to brown and black. The intoxicating toddy is taken from the dense flower spikes.
Leaves : Rounded head of palmate gray-green leaves to 3m across rather folded, rigid and with stiff tips, the stalk with horny thorns.
Height : Trunk 20-30m tall sometimes swollen above the middle, to 1cm thick.
Suitability : Along highways, recommended for strategic places such as Government Buildings, Libraries, Schools and Museums.
This palm is unique & stately and lends a decided tone of permanence wherever seen; it is for these reasons that it has been proudly selected as February, 2002's PALM OF THE MONTH!
Paul, "The Palm Doctor!"