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Hyphaene petersiana (Northern lala palm, Real fan palm, Vegetable ivory palm)

[= Hyphaene ventricosa]

Noordelike lalapalm [Afrikaans];

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 petersiana (Northern lala palm, Real fan palm, Vegetable ivory palm) Hyphaene petersiana (Northern lala palm, Real fan palm, Vegetable ivory palm)

Hyphaene petersiana, Zambezi-Shire confluence, Mozambique. [photo John E. Burrows ]

Hyphaene petersiana, Zambesi National Park, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. [photo Bart Wursten , Flora of Zimbabwe]

Hyphaene petersiana (Northern lala palm, Real fan palm, Vegetable ivory palm)

Hyphaene petersiana, Masuma Dam, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. [photo Bart Wursten , Flora of Zimbabwe]

This palm is larger than Hyphaene coriacea, growing to 18 m high. It could be mistaken for Borassus aethiopicum (Borassus palm) but the latter has larger leaves (3-4 m long including petiole, versus 1.5 - 2 m long in H. coriacea), and larger fruit (12-18 cm in diameter versus 4-5 cm). The natural distributions of the two species within southern Africa also hardly overlap.

Distribution and habitat

Has a tropical African distribution and within southern Africa occurs in northern Namibia, northern Botswana and northern Zimbabwe. Found in low-altitude bushveld and bordering rivers, swamps and pans.

Ecological interactions

Uses by humans

  • Mats, hats and baskets are made from the leaves.
  • The hard white kernel of the seed, termed vegetable ivory, is carved into small ornaments and buttons.
  • In northern Namibia, leaves are torn into shreds and dyed to make false hair or are used to hold a girl's hair arrangement in place.
  • 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.
  • Young fruits are boiled and eaten. Mature fruits have a thin, sweet outer fibrous layer that is eaten.
  • The core of young trunks is eaten as a vegetable by the San.
  • People drink the liquid inside the kernel of the seed, which is similar to coconut milk.

References

  • 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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