Go to content Go to navigation Go to search

Elaeis guineensis (oil palm)

Cold tolerance

Due to the discovery of cold tolerance in ‘dura’ oil palm in Africa it became possible to plant ‘tenera’ hybrids for crop diversification in Africa at high altitudes where there is good rainfall. For example in W. Ethiopia, N. Malawi, N. Cameroon, N.W. Zambia and W. Kenya up to 1500 masl. I conducted these projects for FAO in collaboration with the breeders of ASD Costa Rica. The resulting hybrids also had drought tolerance, high yields and precocity. See the EcoPort record on oil palm and the Smallholder Oil Palm Manual.

Brief description of E. guineensis

The oil palm is one of the largest of the palm species; it has a single stem (up to 22-75 cm in diameter and 18-30 m tall). It has a few deeply penetrating roots that anchor the tree; most roots grow superficially and horizontally as far away as 20 m from the plant’s base and this is why soil compaction and disturbance must be avoided. It produces the largest amount of oil per hectare when compared with other oil crops. 20 t/ha of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) will give at least 4 t/ha of oil. My work mainly applies to smallholder well-being: red palm oil, when correctly extracted, has a low free fatty acid content and long shelf life at ambient temperature due to the anti-oxidants present. It gives isolated villages access to vitamin A and E, cooking oil and soap produced from oil palm on farms or in gardens.

Botanical illustration of Elaeis guineensis

E. guineensis – botanical illustration. Thanks to the Missouri Botanical Garden for this image.

Archive of Field Notes

Countries Worked In