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Hyphaene coriacea (Lala palm)

[= Hyphaene natalensis]

Lalapalm [Afrikaans]; iLala [Zulu]; liLala [Swazi]; nnala [Tsonga]; mulala [Venda]

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Monocotyledons > Order: Arecales > Family: Arecaceae

Hyphaene coriacea (Lala palm)

Hyphaene coriacea, Inharrime, Mozambique. [photo John E. Burrows ]

Hyphaene coriacea (Lala palm) Hyphaene coriacea (Lala palm)

Hyphaene coriacea, Inharrime, Mozambique. [photo John E. Burrows ]

Hyphaene coriacea, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe. [photo Colin Wenham , Flora of Zimbabwe]

Hyphaene coriacea (Lala palm)

Hyphaene coriacea, Levasflor, Cheringoma, Sofala, Mozambique. [photo M Coates Palgrave , Flora of Mozambique]

This is quite a small palm growing from 3-9 m high whereas Hyphaene petersiana grows to 18 m high.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in lowland regions of KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Mozambique and southern Zimbabwe. The distribution does not overlap with that of Hyphaene petersiana, which is the other Hyphaene species native to southern Africa.

Ecological interactions

Uses by humans

  • Mats, hats and baskets are made from the leaves.
  • The hard white kernal of the seed, sometimes termed vegetable ivory, is carved into small ornaments and buttons.
  • Sap is tapped from the growing tip of the stem. This involves cutting away the growing tip and basal leaves and then making an incision into which a leaf stalk is placed that acts as a spout, sending the oozing liquid into a container attached to the stem. A hat-like cover is placed over cut-off tip for protection and to keep it moist. An average sized palm produces about 68 litres of liquid but unfortunately the tapping process also kills the palm. The sap ferments to palm wine termed busulu in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The wine can then be distilled to a spirit with a much higher alcohol concentration. Typically, every 20 litres of wine produces 2 litres of spirit.


  • Palgrave, K.C. and Palgrave, M.C. 2002. Trees of Southern Africa. 3rd Edition. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  • Palmer, E. and Pitman, N. 1972. Trees of Southern Africa covering all known indigenous species in the Republic of South Africa, South-West Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Volume 1. A.A. Balkema, Cape Town.
  • van Wyk, B. and van Wyk, P. 1997. Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.



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