Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Palmyra palm, Sugar palm, Wine palm, Fan palm, Toddy palm, Africanfan palm, Palmira, Tal, Tar, Tad, Tamar, Tadi, Panam, Panai,Tan.

+ Tree Species

Borassus flabellifer

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Native to South and Southeast Asia, in the Indomalaya ecozone. Palmyra palm occurs in hot, dry, monsoonal areas in both forested and open country, often forming large stands. Though a very adaptable palm, it prefers an open, sunny aspect and well-drained, sandy soils near the tropical coast. It is fairly tolerant to drought and water-logging. Does not transplant well and greatly resent to disturbance, thus seeds are best sown in their permanent position.In Kampala, this palm can be found within Makerere University, Uganda Golf course, National housing & Medical quarters among other places.

+ Description

A very tall, single-stemmed evergreen palm tree that can eventually reach a height of 30 metres. The unbranched stem can be up to 1-metre-wide at the base, narrowing to 40 - 50cm at around 4 metres and thereafter cylindrical; it is topped by a crown of up to 60 large, stiffly projecting fan-shaped-leaves.

BARK: black, rough, ringed with old leaf scars, often bear a dead skirt of dried fronds beneath the crown; crownshaft absent.

LEAVES: fronds fan-shaped, rigid, greyish-green, large (up to 3 m across), induplicate (having its margins folded inwards); petiole semi-terete (having a circular transverse section), 0.6 to 1.2 m long, armed with hard, coarse, irregular spines along both edges.

FLOWERS: Inflorescences multi-branched, interfoliar, cream, shorter than the fronds; female inflorescences unbranched or branched with first order, up to 0.3 m long, covered with sheath-like bracts; male inflorescences massive, up to 2 m long, female flowers 2.5 cm in diameter; male flowers 2 cm in diameter.

FRUIT: broadly ovoid, 15 to 20 cm in diameter, 1.5 to 2.5 kg in weight, black, fibrous, fleshy, often fragrant, 1 to 3-seeded.

+ Uses

Edible: fruit can be eaten raw or cooked, a sugar-rich sap is obtained from the inflorescence, soft upper 10 metres of the trunk contains some starch, which may be harvested in times of food scarcity, young solid or gelatinous endosperm of the seeds is eaten fresh or in syrup, sprouted seedlings can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked, a salt is made from the leaves, inflorescence can be cooked, added to soups and curries. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Borassus+flabellifer

Medicine: young plant, young roots, bark, flowers, sap from flower stalk, the apical bud, leaf petioles, pulp of the mature fruit. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Borassus+flabellifer

The leaves are used for thatching house roots and walls, weaving into baskets, mats and many other items. The top young leaves are made into hats, boxes to store rice, baskets, fans, etc.

A number of different fibres can be obtained from the plant. Fibre from the leaves is used to make string, rope, fencing etc., and that of young leaves can be woven into delicate patterns, fibre from the base of the petioles, or the sheathing leafstalks is used to make brushes etc., and can be can be split into fibre to be used for weaving and matting, bark fibre can be used to make strong ropes and a fibre is obtained from the pericarp of the fruit.

The petioles are often used as poles for fencing.

The dried leaflets were at one time used as a paper to record Indian holy texts.

The wood is good for constructing buildings, bridges etc. The somewhat softer middle part of the stem can be split into boards.

The whole trunk can be made into a small boat capable of carrying at least three people.

The wood and leaves are used as fuel and the wood can be made into charcoal.

An ornamental palm.

+ Propagation


+ Management

+ Remarks

Mainly cultivated in the drier parts of its geographical range, where the sugar palm (Arenga pinnata) and the coconut (Cocos nucifera) cannot compete. The lowest 10 metres of the trunk has a hard and strong wood that is heavy, very durable and very resistant to termites, insect borers and decay fungi.

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