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Elaeis oleifera - (Kunth) Cortés

Common Name American Oil Palm
Family Arecaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats More or less open forest in moist, sandy soils that are often poorly drained[ 297 ]. Low-lying wet areas along the sides of rivers and streams, often persisting in cleared areas[ 768 ].
Range S. America - northern Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, the Guyanas; C. America - Panama to Honduras.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (5 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Elaeis oleifera American Oil Palm

Elaeis oleifera American Oil Palm


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American Oil Palm or Elaeis oleifera is a palm species native to South and Central America. It is large and single-stemmed topped by a crown of large, arching leaves. It grows at least 6 m tall. Flowers and fruits are bright red in colour and form into dense clusters. Oil obtained from the pulp is used against rheumatism and dandruff, to promote hair growth and to repel insects. The plant produces two types of oil used as cooking oil, and for making margarine, ice cream, soaps, detergents, shampoos, etc. - palm oil (from the fruit) and kernel oil (from the seeds).

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Elaeis oleifera is an evergreen Tree growing to 4 m (13ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a slow 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


Alfonsia oleifera Kunth Corozo oleifera (Kunth) L.H.Bailey Elaeis melanococca Mart.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

Oil - two types of oil are obtained from the plant. Palm oil is obtained from the fruit whilst palm kernel oil is obtained from the seed[ 297 ]. Both have a wide range of uses, including making margarine, ice cream and as a cooking oil[ 297 ].

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.
Antirheumatic  Haemostatic

The oil obtained from the pulp is applied externally in the treatment of rheumatism, to invigorate hair growth, combat dandruff and to repel insects[ 739 ]. Hairs from the leaf axils are said to be haemostatic[ 739 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Hair  Oil  Repellent  Soap

Other Uses: Oil - two types of oil are obtained from the plant. Palm oil is obtained from the fruit whilst palm kernel oil is obtained from the seed[ 297 ]. These oils contain a high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids[ 418 ]. Both have a wide range of uses, including making soaps, detergents, shampoos, cosmetics, hair creams, lubricating oil, additives and fluxes[ 297 , 768 ]. The oil can be applied to the body as an insect repellent[ 739 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Oil

A plant of the lowland, moist tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 510 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, but can tolerate 14 - 34°c[ 418 ]. It can be killed by temperatures of 8°c or lower[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,400 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 700 - 3,500mm[ 418 ]. Plants grow well in full sun, even when small[ 297 ]. Requires a humus-rich, well-drained soil, but is not fussy as to soil type[ 297 , 314 , 418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 5 - 7.3[ 418 ]. A slow growing tree[ 418 ]. Plants can commence bearing just 3 years after the seed has germinated[ 297 ]. The plant produces both male and female flowers, but not usually at the same time. An individual inflorescence will be all male or all female flowers; after a series of inflorescences of one sex the plant will then produce a series of inflorescences of the opposite sex[ 768 ]. Spacing: 15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m) 20-30 ft. (6-9 m).

Carbon Farming

  • 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.
  • Staple Crop: Oil  (0-15 percent protein, 16+ percent oil). Some of these are consumed whole while others are exclusively pressed for oil. Annuals include canola, poppyseed, maize, cottonseed, sunflower, peanut. Perennials include high-oil fruits, seeds, and nuts, such as olive, coconut, avocado, oil palm, shea, pecan, and macadamia. Some perennial oil crops are consumed whole as fruits and nuts, while others are exclusively pressed for oil (and some are used fresh and for oil).

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - pre-soak 24 hours in warm water and sow in containers. Germination takes place in 2 - 5 months[ 297 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Corozo, Batana, Murisi, Caiaue, Noli, Ujun, Palmiche, Coquito, batana, murísi,

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

Costa Rica; Honduras; Nicaragua; Panama; French Guiana; Suriname; Colombia; Ecuador; Peru; Brazil, Amazon, Australia, Brazil, Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, South America, Suriname, Venezuela,

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.

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Elaeis guineensisAfrican Oil PalmTree15.0 10-12 SLMHNMWe525

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.


Expert comment


(Kunth) Cortés

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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