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Raphia vinifera - P.Beauv.

Common Name Wine Raffia Palm. Wine Palm
Family Arecaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Borders of rivers[454 ]. Swamps and creeks[970 ].
Range Tropical west Africa - Ghana to DR Congo.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Raphia vinifera Wine Raffia Palm. Wine Palm

Raphia vinifera Wine Raffia Palm. Wine Palm
Wikimedia.org - Toluaye


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Raphia vinifera is an evergreen Tree growing to 6 m (19ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Metroxylon viniferum (P.Beauv.) Spreng. Raphia diasticha Burret Sagus raphia Poir. Sagus vinifera (P.Beauv.) Pers.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Apical bud  Fruit  Oil  Sap  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

The oil, extracted from the mesocarp of the fruits by cooking, is used as food (raphia butter)[431 , 970 ]. The kernels of the fruits are eaten roasted[317 ]. The fruit is edible, but somewhat bitter[301 ]. The terminal bud of the palm is eaten as palm cabbage[317 ]. An intoxicating beverage called Bourdon is obtained by tapping the trunk and fermenting the sap obtained[454 ]. The sweet sap is extracted by removing the immature inflorescence and collecting the sap that runs out of the portion of cut stem remaining on the tree. In contrast to Raphia hookeri, the sap is not much used for wine making[317 ]. The sap is also concentrated to make a sweet syrup[301 ]. When the stems are harvested to be used as poles, they are allowed to lie on the ground for several days whilst the sap was drained. The drink obtained by this method is less sweet and more alcoholic that the drink obtained from the genuine wine palm (Elaeis spp)[970 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


The leaves are mainly exploited as a source of fibres (piassava, raffia, Lagos-bast, African bast)[317 ]. Hats, clothes and cordage are traditionally made from the leaves[454 ]. The leaves are considered as one of the best local thatching materials, being more durable than other materials[970 ]. Bound with lines, they are used as a thatching material[454 ]. The vascular bundle fibres, obtained from the leaf sheaths, are made into brooms and brushes[317 ]. The fibres are about 90 - 120cm long[454 ]. The bast fibres serve the weaving of mats, baskets, belts, hammocks, fishing lines, and as tying material, used in the horticulture[317 ]. The oil, extracted from the mesocarp of the fruits by cooking, is used as food (raphia butter) or utilized as fuel oil, lubricant, or pomade[327 ]. The leaf stems are about 2 metres long[454 ]. They are used as a building material in a similar manner to bamboo for making the framework of native dwellings[317 , 454 ]. The mid-ribs are stout but light. They have a wide range of uses including as poles, paddles, material for house building, furniture making etc[970 ]. When split, they provide material for weaving floor mats[970 ]. The main stems of the plant are used as house posts[970 ]. Industrial Crop: Fibre.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Fiber  Management: Standard  Regional Crop

Humid tropics. A monocarpic plant - growing for several years without flowering, then producing a massive inflorescence and dying after setting seed[200 ]. Fruit rot, caused by Thielaviopsis paradoxa (synonym: Chalara paradoxa) affects Raphia vinifera in Nigeria, causing dark brown rot of the mesocarp. It is a weak pathogen entering fruit via wounds, sometimes killing the embryo, and leading to loss of planting material. The aphid Cerataphis palmae may cause considerable damage to Raphia vinifera, e.g. in Nigeria.

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Fiber  Clothing, rugs, sheets, blankets etc. Currently, almost none of our fiber are produced from perennial crops but could be!
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Raphia palms are generally propagated by seed. In nurseries, a spacing of 30 cm × 30 cm is recommended. Seedlings may be collected from the wild and raised in a nursery before being planted out in the field. Raphia vinifera is also propagated by suckers. Propagation by tissue culture techniques may offer potential for Raphia.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Palm, Pharoah's palm, Wine palm, West African piassava palm, bamboo palm or West African bass fibre

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Asia, Benin, Cameroon, Central Africa, China, Congo, East Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Guinea, Guinée, India, Madagascar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, West Africa*, Zambia

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Raphia fariniferaRaffia PalmTree25.0 9-12 FLMHNMWe304
Raphia hookeriIvory Coast Raffia PalmTree10.0 10-12 FLMHNMWe324
Raphia palma-pinusThatch palmTree10.0 10-12 FLMHSNMWe024

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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