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Raphia australis (Kosi palm)

Kosi-palm [Afrikaans]; umvuma [Zulu]

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 > Genus: Raphia

Trees have among the longest leaves of any plant in the world, measuring up to 10 m long. The apical, erect inflorescence is also huge, up to 3 m high.

Distribution and habitat

Northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique.

Ecological interactions

  • Gypohierax angolensis (Palmnut vulture) - this species has become specialised in eating the thin, fleshy, sweet layer round the kernal of the fruit of this species. It also usually nests in these palm trees.

Uses by humans

  • Leaves are used for thatching roofs.
  • The thick, long petioles (midribs of leaves) are used in the construction of huts, fences and rafts.


  • 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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