Oil Palms

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

oil palms the collective name for those palm trees which are a source of edible oils. The most important of these, Elaeis guineensis, is considered under palm oil.

The oil palms seem to have originated in widely separated parts of the world. E. guineensis is W. African. The American oil palm, Corozo (formerly Elaeis) oleifera, grows in southern C. and northern S. America and in the Amazon basin.

Other palms which yield edible oils include the coconut. In addition, the raffia palms, of which there are various species in the African tropics and a few in S. America, yield oil. The most important is the Madagascar raffia palm, Raphia farinifera (better known as a source of the raffia used by gardeners for tying up plants, and for having the largest leaves in the world—up to 20 m/65' long). The pointed, oval fruits, which may be sweet or bitter, yield an oil known as raffia butter.