We need help! In recent months our income dropped considerably and we need more donations from our users to avoid getting into financial difficulty. More >>>

Follow Us:

 

Raphia farinifera - (Gaertn.) Hyl.

Common Name Raffia Palm
Family Arecaceae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Moist, swampy ground[200 ]. Riverine and groundwater forest[364 ]. Gallery forests, freshwater swamp forest, along river banks and in the western shoreline forests of Lake Victoria, at elevations from sea level to 2,500 metres[398 ].
Range Tropical Africa - Senegal to Cameroon; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Full sun
Raphia farinifera Raffia Palm


http://www.botanicimage.com
Raphia farinifera Raffia Palm
http://www.botanicimage.com

Translate this page:

You can translate the content of this page by selecting a language in the select box.

Summary

Raphia farinifera or commonly known as Raffia Palm is a tropical palm tree endemic to Africa that grows up to 10 m tall and 60 cm in trunk diameter. It is a monocarpic species, which means that its individual stems only flower once then die. Flowering occurs when the tree is about 20-25 years old and it takes another 5 years from flowering to ripe fruit. The fruits are oblong to ovoid and covered with glossy golden brown scales. It can be eaten once boiled. The fruit also sources edible oil and edible seeds. Sap obtained from the trunk can be made into palm wine and sweet beverages. The stem, on the other hand, yield an edible starch. A commercially important and strong fiber known as raffia can be obtained from the leaves of this tree. It is used in weaving, thatching, hut construction, etc. Piassava, fibre obtained from the leaf sheaths, is used for making brooms and ropes. Lower surface of the leaves yield wax which can be used as a polish for boats and floors, and in candle production. Oil extract from fruit pulp and kernels is used in soap making. The wood is used for construction.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Raphia farinifera is an evergreen Tree growing to 25 m (82ft) by 18 m (59ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

Synonyms

Metroxylon ruffia (Jacq.) Spreng. Raphia kirkii Engl. ex Becc. Raphia lyciosa Comm. ex Kunth Raphia

Habitats

Moist, swampy ground[200 ]. Riverine and groundwater forest[364 ]. Gallery forests, freshwater swamp forest, along river banks and in the western shoreline forests of Lake Victoria, at elevations from sea level to 2,500 metres[398 ].

Edible Uses

The sap from the trunk is fermented to make palm wine[297 , 317 ]. It is also used to make a sweet beverage[301 ]. The sap can be obtained either by cutting down the trunk and allowing the sap to drain out, or by boring a hole in the trunk near the apex[297 ]. An edible starch is obtained from the stem[301 , 317 ]. Fruit - boiled and eaten[297 , 317 ]. An oil is obtained from the fruit[297 ]. The boiled fruit pulp yields a yellow fat known as raphia butter - it has a good taste when fresh[301 ]. The fruits are crushed, water is added and the mixture boiled then left to cool. The floating oil is then skimmed off and used in cooking[398 ].. The seed is edible[301 , 317 ].

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

Other Uses

Other Uses: Raffia, which is widely used in weaving to make baskets, mats etc, is obtained from the leaflets of this plant[297 ]. The large midribs of the leaves, and the leaf stalks, are widely used by native people to construct the framework of houses, as poles for various uses and for making into furniture[297 ]. They can be split into strips for weaving into mats, baskets etc[297 ]. The leaves are used for thatching and weaving baskets, mats and hats[364 ]. The fibres obtained from the leaves are used as tying material and for weaving mats, hoods, bags, curtains etc[317 ]. The tough fibre (known as piassava) obtained from the leaf sheaths, is used for making brooms[297 ]. A tough rope can also be made from this fibre[297 ]. The fibre is derived from the cuticle of the leaves, which are harvested before fully expanded and peeled upon both sides. The thin strips of fibrous material thus obtained are afterwards divided into narrower strips by a kind of comb, according to the purpose for which they are to be used. It appears as flat, straw-coloured strips, about 12 - 18mm wide and from 90 - 120cm long. It is capable of being divided into fine threads. It can be used for delicately plaited goods, hats, mats for covering lloors, and for wrapping up goods. The loose strips are extensively used in place of Russian bast or tie bands by gardeners and nurserymen. More recently it has been woven into superior matting, tastefully coloured, and used instead of tapestry for covering walls in London houses[454 ]. The preparation of raffia is one of the most extensive industries in Madagascar. The men cut the palm leaves in the forests and bring them home for the women to complete the work. The fibre is cured the same day i t is stripped[454 ] Among its native uses may be mentioned cordage and fishing nets[454 ]. Raphia wax, which is derived from the lower surface of the leaves, is used as a polish for boats and floors or is utilized for the production of candles[317 ]. The oil extracted from the boiled fruit pulp and the kernels of the fruits is used for the production of soap and stearin[317 ]. The shells of the fruits are made into snuffboxes or buttons[317 ]. Wood - used for construction[297 ]. The wood can be used after the sap has been allowed to drain[297 ].

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Fiber;  Industrial Crop: Wax;  Management: Standard;  Regional Crop;  Staple Crop: Oil;  Staple Crop: Sugar.

A plant of the tropics, it is able to succeed in subtropical areas. Plants succeed in moist tropical climates where temperatures never fall below 10?c, the average annual rainfall is 1,500mm or more and the driest month has 25mm or more rain[297 ]. Requires a sunny position in a wet soil[314 ]. A monocarpic plant - growing for several years without flowering, then producing a massive inflorescence and dying after setting seed[200 ]. Flowering Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Bloom Color: White. Spacing: 20-30 ft. (6-9 m) 30-40 ft. (9-12 m) over 40 ft. (12 m).

Propagation

Seed - pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water and sow in containers. The seed requires several months to germinate[297 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Chiwale, Kibo, Mavale, Mkalilila, Mole, Mwaale, Mwale, Viwale, fomby, moronda, rafia, voampiso.

Found In

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

Angola; Benin; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Congo; Côte d'Ivoire; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Kenya; Madagascar; Malawi; Mozambique; Nigeria; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe, Africa, Australia, Cameroon, Central Africa, Congo, East Africa, Fiji, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pacific, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe,

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 NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Raphia hookeriIvory Coast Raffia Palm32
Raphia palma-pinusThatch palm20

 

Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment

Author

(Gaertn.) Hyl.

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.

Readers comment

QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.

2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.

3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Raphia farinifera  
All the information contained in these pages is Copyright (C) Plants For A Future, 1996-2012.
Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567,
Web Design & Management
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some information cannot be used for commercial reasons or be modified (but some can). Please view the copyright link for more information.