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The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

ISSN 2307-8235 (online)


IUCN 2008: T13416970A13416973
Scope: Global
Language: English

Elaeis guineensis, African Oil Palm


Assessment by: Cosiaux, A., Gardiner, L.M. & Couvreur, T.L.P.

View on www.iucnredlist.org

Citation: Cosiaux, A., Gardiner, L.M. & Couvreur, T.L.P. 2016. Elaeis guineensis. The IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species 2016: e.T13416970A13416973. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-
3.RLTS.T13416970A13416973.en

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THE IUCN RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES


Taxonomy
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Plantae Tracheophyta Liliopsida Arecales Palmae

Taxon 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) Corts (Vincent
et al. 2013).

Assessment Information
Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1

Year Published: 2016

Date Assessed: July 13, 2016

Justification:
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
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 km. The area of occupancy (AOO) is more restricted at only 528 km. The
apparently low AOO calculated is misleading and a result of under-collection of herbarium specimens of
this large and difficult to collect species.

Country Occurrence:
Native: Angola (Angola); Benin; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad;
Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Cte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Gambia;
Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mozambique; Nigeria; Rwanda; Sao Tom and
Principe; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Elaeis guineensis published in 2016. 1
http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T13416970A13416973.en
Distribution Map
Elaeis guineensis

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Elaeis guineensis published in 2016. 2
http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T13416970A13416973.en
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

Habitat and Ecology (see Appendix for additional information)


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).

Systems:Terrestrial

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
There are no major threats known to this palm within its natural range.

Conservation Actions (see Appendix for additional information)


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 (https://www.genesys-pgr.org/1/acn/search2?q=Elaeis+guineensis), but a number
of these are likely to be from cultivated rather than wild sources.

Credits

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Elaeis guineensis published in 2016. 3
http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T13416970A13416973.en
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.

Facilitators(s) and Baker, W.J. & Sonk, B.


Compiler(s):

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Elaeis guineensis published in 2016. 4
http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T13416970A13416973.en
Bibliography
Arbonnier, M. 2002. Arbres, arbustes et lianes des zones sches d'Afrique de l'Ouest. Deuxime Edition.
CIRAD-MNHM.

BGCI. 2016. PlantSearch. London: Botanic Gardens Conservation International Available at:
www.bgci.org/plant_search.php.

Burkill, H.M. 1997. The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Dauby, G., Stevart, T., Droissart, V., Simo, M., Deblauwe, V. and Couvreur, T.L.P. ConR: an R package for
fast multi-species preliminary assessment of conservation status. .

Dransfield, J. 1986. Palmae. In: R.M. Polhill (ed.), Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam.

Dransfield, J., Uhl, N.W., Baker, W.J., Harley, M.M. and Lewis, C.E. 2008. Genera Palmarum. The
Evolutation and Classification of Palms. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens. Kew.

Gruca, M., Blach-Overgaard, A. and Balslev H. 2015. African palm ethno-medicine. Journal of
Ethnopharmacology 165: 227-237.

Harvey, Y., Tchiengue, B. and Cheek, M. (eds). 2010. The Plants of Lebialem Highlands, Cameroon: a
conservation checklist. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org.
(Accessed: 07 December 2016).

PROTA4U. 2016. Elaeis guineensis. Available at:


http://www.prota4u.org/protav8.asp?p=Elaeis+guineensis.

Stauffer, F.W., Ouattara, D. and Stork, A.L. 2014. Palmae (Arecaceae). In: J.P. Lebrun and A.L. Stork (eds),
Tropical African Flowering Plants: Monocotyledons 2, Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de
Genve, Switzerland.

Tuley, P. 1995. Palms of Africa. Trendrin, St.Ives.

Vincent, H., Wiersema, J., Kell, S., Fielder, H., Dobbie, S., Castaeda-lvareza, N.P., Guarino, L., Eastwood,
R., Len, B. and Maxted, N. 2013. A prioritized crop wild relative inventory to help underpin global food
security. Biological Conservation 167: 265275.

Citation
Cosiaux, A., Gardiner, L.M. & Couvreur, T.L.P. 2016. Elaeis guineensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened
Species 2016: e.T13416970A13416973. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-
3.RLTS.T13416970A13416973.en

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To make use of this information, please check the Terms of Use.

External Resources
For Images and External Links to Additional Information, please see the Red List website.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Elaeis guineensis published in 2016. 5
http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T13416970A13416973.en
Appendix

Habitats
(http://www.iucnredlist.org/technical-documents/classification-schemes)

Major
Habitat Season Suitability
Importance?

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland Resident Suitable Yes

Conservation Actions in Place


(http://www.iucnredlist.org/technical-documents/classification-schemes)

Conservation Actions in Place


In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management

Occur in at least one PA: Yes

In-Place Species Management

Subject to ex-situ conservation: Yes

Additional Data Fields


Distribution
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) (km): 528

Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown

Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) (km): 7494186

Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown

Lower elevation limit (m): 0

Upper elevation limit (m): 1500

Population
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitats and Ecology


Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Elaeis guineensis published in 2016. 6
http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T13416970A13416973.en
The IUCN Red List Partnership

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is produced and managed by the IUCN Global Species
Programme, the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) and The IUCN Red List Partnership.

The IUCN Red List Partners are: Arizona State University; BirdLife International; Botanic Gardens
Conservation International; Conservation International; NatureServe; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew;
Sapienza University of Rome; Texas A&M University; and Zoological Society of London.

THE IUCN RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES