AFRICAN OIL PALM
ELAEIS GUINEENSIS jacq.
Local name: African oil palm (Engl.).
The African oil palm was brought into the Philippines some time the middle of the last century. It is cultivated in the Manila and in larger towns as an ornamental. Seeds of improved strains were introduced by the author in 1938 from Kuala Lumpur and are now grow by the Bureau of Plant Industry. It is grown extensively in west in West Africa, its original home, and in Malaya, Sumatra, Java, India, and the United State.
The trunk is erect, attaining a height of 4 of 10 meters. The leaves are numerous, and 3 to 3.5 meters long. The petioles are broad, and are armed on the sides with spinescent, reduced leaves. The leaflets are numerous, linear-lanceolate, nearly 1 meter long, 2 or 4 meters wide. The male inflorescence in dense, having numerous, cylindric spikes which are 7 to 12 centimeters long and about 1 centimeters in diameters; their rachises excurrent as a stout awn. The female inflorescences is dense, branched, 20 to 30 centimeters long, and the flowers densely disposed. The fruit is borne in large dense masses.
The palm yields two kinds of oil: the palm oil and palm-kernel oil. The palm oil is chiefly used for manufacture of soaps and candles. It consists principally of palmitin and olein. The palm-kernel oil is used for making vegetable butter. According to Burkill the kernel oil consists chiefly of the glyceride of lauric acid, together with palmitic, oleic and myristic acid, some caprylic acids and capric acid and phytosterin. In Africa much wine is made from the trees. For details of chemical constituents, see Wehmer.
The palm is not known medically in the Philippines. However, Caius reports that in Guinea the oil is applied to wounds as a vulnerary. It is used also as a liniment for rheumatism and courbature. The bubis of the Island of Fernando make an excellent poultice of the oil, which is applied to wounds. In Equatorial West Africa. According to him, the roots are used as a diuretic and the fresh sap, as a laxative.