Elaeis guineensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Liliopsida Arecales Arecaceae

Scientific Name: Elaeis guineensis Jacq.
Common Name(s):
English African Oil Palm
French Palmier a Huile
Taxonomic Notes: In its wild form, Elaeis guineensis Jacq. is a primary wild relative of African Oil Palm, the cultivated form of the species. It is also a tertiary wild relative of American Oil Palm, E. oleifera (Kunth) Cortés (Vincent et al. 2013).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-07-13
Assessor(s): Cosiaux, A., Gardiner, L.M. & Couvreur, T.L.P.
Reviewer(s): Bachman, S., Baker, W.J., Kell, S.P., Maxted, N. & Magos Brehm, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Baker, W.J. & Sonké, B.
The African Oil Palm, Elaeis guineensis has a very large native range, a large stable wild population and there are no major threats to the species, hence it is assessed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Elaeis guineensis is widely distributed throughout the lowlands of West Africa and the Congo Basin. It also occurs in restricted riparian areas in East and southern Africa (Tuley 1995, Dransfield et al. 2008). Although it generally occurs in the lowlands, it is encountered up to 680 m in Cameroon and 1,500 m in East Africa (Harvey et al. 2010, Dransfield 1986). Semi-wild oil palm groves are found in the northeastern part of Brazil where the species were introduced from West Africa through the slave trade of the 16th-18th centuries (PROTA4U 2016). The species has also been introduced for cultivation in many countries outside Africa (especially in South East Asia). Its native extent of occurrence (EOO) is very large at 7,494,186 km². The area of occupancy (AOO) is more restricted at only 528 km². The apparently low AOO calculated is misleading and a result of under-collection of herbarium specimens of this large and difficult to collect species.

Countries occurrence:
Angola; Benin; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mozambique; Nigeria; Rwanda; Sao Tomé and Principe; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:528Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:7494186
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):Unknown
Upper elevation limit (metres):1500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The number of individuals of Elaeis guineensis is not known but the species is common across its large distribution, and the overall population number is likely to be very large in the wild. The enormous number of plants in cultivation around the world are excluded from this assessment.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Elaeis guineensis is a large palm with pinnate leaves, growing up to 30 m high. It mostly grows in riparian vegetation in humid areas. This palm is generally associated with moist and semi-shady conditions, but it is well adapted to a wide range of vegetation and soil types. It occurs in open savannas, in secondary forests and often persists in farmlands and fallows (Tuley 1995, Stauffer et al. 2014). The greatest genetic variation is found in southeastern Nigeria and western Cameroon and there is fossil evidence that the Niger Delta is the most likely centre of origin for this species (PROTA4U 2016).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Wild populations of Elaeis guineensis are primary sources of genetic diversity with potential for improvement of its cultivated counterpart, African Oil Palm. It is also a tertiary wild relative of, and potential gene donor to American Oil Palm (Vincent et al. 2013).

The African Oil Palm is one of the most economically important palms in Africa. In 1960, 78% of world production of palm oil was from Africa within a global production of 1.3 million tonnes. In 2005 the African production decreased to only 5% of the worldwide production (34.8 million t) (PROTA4U 2016), and enormous plantations of E. guineensis in South East Asia now produce the majority of commercial palm oil.

In Africa, almost all parts of the palm are used, and for a wide range of uses. The trunks and leaves are used for house construction. The mesocarp and the oil extracted from the mesocarp (red oil) are used for cooking. Palm wine is extracted from the stem and is an important product from this palm. The sweet sap may also be transformed in syrup, sugar and alcohol. The roots, sap, leaves, and and fruits are used as medicine in several countries (Burkill 1997, Arbonnier 2002, Gruca et al. 2014, PROTA4U 2016). 

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats known to this palm within its natural range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is well represented in in situ conservation sites, and is found in 26 protected areas. In addition it is present in 82 ex situ conservation collections (BGCI 2016). There are 19 accessions recorded in Genesys (, but a number of these are likely to be from cultivated rather than wild sources.

Citation: Cosiaux, A., Gardiner, L.M. & Couvreur, T.L.P. 2016. Elaeis guineensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T13416970A13416973. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided