Edible parts - Fruit, Cabbage, Sap, Seeds, Palm heart, Vegetable, Young roots, Seedling
A solitary fan palm. It grows up to 25 m tall. It has separate male and female trees. The trunk is bottle shaped and smooth. Older trees have a swelling on the trunk above the middle which helps distinguish it from Palmyra palm. The bark is grey. Young trees have leaf bases which cling to the tree. The leaf scars are prominent. The terminal crown is a cluster of fan-shaped leaves. The leaves are up to 4 m long including the leaf stalk. The leaf is divided about the middle into folded segments. The leaf stalks are black with hooked spines along the edges. The flower comes from between the leaf stalks. The male flower spike
is 2 m long with branches which are 25 cm long by 4 cm across. The female flower spike is 1.5-3 m long and unbranched. There are 20-50 fruit. The fruit are round and about 15 cm across. They are green to orange. The base of the fruit are enclosed in 6-7 cup shaped bracts. The fruit contain 3 hard coated seeds. The individual fruit is about 1 kg weight and the seeds 100 g.
A tropical plant. It grows in the lowlands and the highlands. It grows in the semi arid and sub humid tropics. It grows in the Sahel. Plants are often spread by elephants after the eat the fruit. It requires good sunlight. It cannot grow in waterlogged soils. It grows from sea level to 1850 m with temperatures of 18°C to 30°C. It is most common is areas with 500-1,200 mm rainfall but also grows in slightly higher rainfall areas. It can grow in arid places and savannah. It suits hardiness zones 11-12.