Hyphaene petersiana

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Real fan palm
Makalani palm
Hyphaene petersiana MS 9966.jpg
In northern Namibia
Hyphaene petersiana01.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Hyphaene
Species: H. petersiana
Binomial name
Hyphaene petersiana
Klotzsch ex Mart., 1845
  • Chamaeriphes benguelensis (Welw. ex H.Wendl.) Kuntze
  • Chamaeriphes ventricosa (J.Kirk) Kuntze
  • Hyphaene aurantiaca Dammer
  • Hyphaene benguellensis Welw. ex H.Wendl.
  • Hyphaene benguelensis var. ventricosa (J.Kirk) Furtado
  • Hyphaene bussei Dammer
  • Hyphaene goetzei Dammer
  • Hyphaene obovata Furtado
  • Hyphaene ovata Furtado
  • Hyphaene plagiocarpa Dammer
  • Hyphaene ventricosa J.Kirk
  • Hyphaene ventricosa subsp. ambolandensis Becc.
  • Hyphaene ventricosa subsp. anisopleura Becc.
  • Hyphaene ventricosa subsp. aurantiaca (Dammer) Becc.
  • Hyphaene ventricosa subsp. benguelensis (Welw. ex H.Wendl.) Becc.
  • Hyphaene ventricosa subsp. bussei (Dammer) Becc.
  • Hyphaene ventricosa subsp. goetzei (Dammer) Becc.
  • Hyphaene ventricosa subsp. petersiana (Klotzsch ex Mart.) Becc.
  • Hyphaene ventricosa subsp. plagiocarpa (Dammer) Becc.
  • Hyphaene ventricosa subsp. russisiensis Becc.
  • Hyphaene ventricosa subsp. useguhensis Becc.

The Real fan palm (Hyphaene petersiana), locally known as the Makalani palm, is a palm tree native to the subtropical, low-lying regions of south central Africa. Its habitat is open woodland, flood plains, banks of rivers and the fringes of pans and swamps. It is found in Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and the northern and north-eastern Transvaal.[2]

As with other Hyphaene species, H. petersiana is dioicous and the female plants produce copious fruit of some 60 mm diameter. Up to 2,000 fruit may be found on a tree,[3] the combined yield of about four seasons.[4] The seeds germinate with difficulty but find saline conditions beneficial.[4] They develop massive tap-roots which draw saline water deep underground.[4] Though slow-growing,[3] they may attain a maximum height of 18m.[5] Typical adult plants are in the order of 5-7m high.

The plants are utilized by humans and animals. Repeated cutting of the growth point to obtain sap for palm wine production may eventually destroy the trees.[3] The stem pith is edible. Beneath the outer fibrous husk of the fruit is a core of white endosperm known as 'vegetable ivory', initially soft and edible and containing some liquid comparable to coconut milk.[5] The Ovambo people call the fruit of the Makalani palm eendunga and use it to distill ombike, their traditional liquor.[6]

The species is similar to H. natalensis, which occurs to the southeast. It is however distinguishable by the shape of the fruit–round rather than pear-shaped–and the shape of the stem, which regularly bulges out below the foliage. B. aethiopum has a comparable stem shape.[7][8]

African palm swifts[4] and rufous-tailed palm-thrushes regionally depend on this species for breeding.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The Plant List, Hyphaene petersiana
  2. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Hyphaene petersiana
  3. ^ a b c Palgrave, Keith Coates (1984). Trees of Southern Africa. Cape Town: C. Struik. pp. 67–68. ISBN 0-86977-081-0. 
  4. ^ a b c d "The makalani palm". tourbrief.com. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  5. ^ a b van Wyk, Braam, Piet van Wyk (1997). Trees of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik. pp. 52–53. ISBN 1-86825-922-6. 
  6. ^ Shaanika, Helvy (26 October 2012). "Ombike – a potent traditional brew". New Era. Archived from the original on 28 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Martius, Carl Friedrich Philipp von. 1845. Historia Naturalis Palmarum 3: 227, Hyphaene Petersiana
  8. ^ Kirk, James Tiberius. 1866. Journal of the Linnean Society. Botany. London, 9: 235, Hyphaene ventricosa

External links[edit]