1. Family: Arecaceae Bercht. & J.Presl
    1. Genus: Raphia P.Beauv.
      1. Raphia farinifera (Gaertn.) Hyl.

        This species is accepted, and its native range is Tropical Africa, N. & E. Madagascar.

    [FWTA]

    Palmae, T. A. Russell. Flora of West Tropical Africa 3:1. 1968

    Note
    This species, widely distributed in E. and Central Africa, is represented in highland W. Cameroun by a form without a clear trunk, but producing a great cluster of fronds at ground-level, or on a very short stem covered by petioles
    Ecology
    Common near villages at the edge of water courses
    [FTEA]

    Palmae, John Dransfield. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1994

    Habit
    Massive, clustering (rarely solitary) palm to 25 m. or more tall; trunk to 60 cm. or more in diameter, to 10 m. tall or more, the lower part with pronounced leaf-scars, some remains of rotted leaf-sheaths and apogeotropic adventitious roots, upper part covered with leaf-bases.
    Leaves
    Leaves erect, slightly spreading, giving most crowns a rather characteristic ‘shuttlecock’ appearance, very large, to 20 m. long; leaf-base sheathing at the base, with a ragged ligular edge; petiole rounded, to 1.5 m. long, ± 20 cm. in diameter, decreasing gradually, ±12 cm. in diameter at the insertion of the lowermost leaflets, and the rachis gradually decreasing above; rachis in fresh state orangey brown or almost crimson, with 2 lateral grooves near the base, accommodating the leaflets in bud and a median adaxial crest distally; leaflets up to ± 150 or more on each side, to 1 m. long by 8 cm. wide, inserted mostly in two planes, the whole leaf hence appearing plumose, stiff, hardly drooping; margins and main veins with distally pointing spines to 3 mm. long; lamina abaxially white waxy, very sparsely waxy adaxially; main veins usually somewhat reddish in colour.
    Inflorescences
    Inflorescences produced ± simultaneously from the axils of reduced leaves at the stem apex, pendulous, massive, to 3 m. long by 35 cm. wide. Primary inflorescence-bracts to 30 cm. long by 20 cm. wide, tubular, partially enclosing the first and second order branches; primary branching system to 30 cm. long and 2.5 cm. wide at the base with a basal 2-keeled prophyll to 18 cm. long; and 1 or a few empty tubular bracts to 6 cm. long; further bracts ± 5 mm. apart, closely sheathing, ± 4-ranked, each subtending a rachilla; all rachillae lying close together and almost congested at anthesis; rachillae to 12 cm. in proximal part of inflorescence, shorter in distal part, exceptionally to 15 cm., to 1.5 cm. wide.
    Male
    Male flower to 12 mm. long by 2 mm. wide, enclosed by a 2-keeled prophyll to 6 mm. long; calyx tubular, scarcely 3-lobed, to 4 mm. long; corolla with a basal tube to 2 mm. long and 3 lobes 10 mm. long by 1.5 mm. wide, acute, slightly thickened in the uppermost 3 mm.; stamens 6, epipetalous at the mouth of the corolla-tube, with filaments 2 mm. long by 0.5 mm. wide, fleshy and weakly connate, anthers ± 3.5 mm. long by 0.5 mm. wide; pistillode not seen.
    Flowers
    Pistillate flower enclosed in a 2-keeled prophyll to 8 mm. long and a second bracteole to 3 mm. long; calyx tubular, truncate, usually splitting, to 8 mm. by 4 mm.; corolla much shorter than the calyx, hence hidden, tubular in the proximal 2 mm., with poorly developed apiculate lobes to 3 mm. long by 2 mm. wide; staminodes 6, very inconspicuous; ovary to 5 mm. long by 3 mm. wide, covered in vertical rows of reflexed orangey brown fimbriate scales. Male flower to 12 mm. long by 2 mm. wide, enclosed by a 2-keeled prophyll to 6 mm. long; calyx tubular, scarcely 3-lobed, to 4 mm. long; corolla with a basal tube to 2 mm. long and 3 lobes 10 mm. long by 1.5 mm. wide, acute, slightly thickened in the uppermost 3 mm.; stamens 6, epipetalous at the mouth of the corolla-tube, with filaments 2 mm. long by 0.5 mm. wide, fleshy and weakly connate, anthers ± 3.5 mm. long by 0.5 mm. wide; pistillode not seen.
    Female
    Pistillate flower enclosed in a 2-keeled prophyll to 8 mm. long and a second bracteole to 3 mm. long; calyx tubular, truncate, usually splitting, to 8 mm. by 4 mm.; corolla much shorter than the calyx, hence hidden, tubular in the proximal 2 mm., with poorly developed apiculate lobes to 3 mm. long by 2 mm. wide; staminodes 6, very inconspicuous; ovary to 5 mm. long by 3 mm. wide, covered in vertical rows of reflexed orangey brown fimbriate scales.
    Fruits
    Fruit at maturity very variable, ovoid, pyriform, or ellipsoidal, sometimes developing without seed, in which case very narrowly ellipsoidal, 7.5–10 × 4–5.5 cm., covered in 12–13 rows of convex reflexed scales and tipped by a short beak to 5 mm. high; scales normally with a pronounced mid-groove and a deep dimple at the base into which fits the tip of the next scale, the largest scales ± 15 mm. long, 18 mm. wide, bright orangey brown in colour; mesocarp to ± 5 mm. thick when fresh, oily, drying very hard.
    Seeds
    Seed usually 1 only, 4–6 cm. long by 3–4 cm. in diameter, its shape conforming to the external shape of the fruit, pointed at the base; sarcotesta closely grooved in dry specimens; endosperm with sparse ruminations.
    Figures
    Fig. 7.
    Habitat
    Widespread in gallery forest and freshwater swamp-forest; 0–2500 m.
    Distribution
    K4 K7 P T3 T6 T7 U2 U4 Z   C. & E. Africa coastal towns, upland towns, Amani throughout southern tropical Africa, Madagascarfrequently cultivated
    [PW]
    General Description
    Solitary palm, though clustering in mainland Africa. TRUNK to 10 m, covered in persistent leaf sheaths. LEAVES c. 12 in the crown, porrect, slightly spreading, giving the crown a shuttle-cock appear- ; ance, very long, to 20 m; leaf base sheathing, with ragged ligular edge; petiole rounded in section; sheath and petiole c. 1.5 m long; rachis several meters long, reddish, distally keeled, proximally to 13 cm wide and decreasing to 1 cm, with scattered scales; leaflets up to 150 on each side of the rachis, inserted in 2 planes and thereby giving the whole leaf a feathery appearance, stiff, attenuate, the median 87-103 x 3.6-3.7 cm, the distal 16-36 x 0.4-1.7 cm, main veins 1, margins with small (1-3 mm long) yellow spines from base to apex of leaflet, midrib adaxially with similar spines to 4 mm, waxy, with many minute reddish scales/glands scattered over the abaxial surface, and sparse ramenta on the midrib. INFLORESCENCE pendulous from the axils of reduced leaves at the stem apex, massive, to 3 m long and 35 cm wide, branched to 2 orders; peduncle distally c. 5.5 x 4.5 cm diam., glabrous; primary prophyll c. 25 x 28 cm; peduncular bract c. 18 cm long and 8 cm diam., tubular for c. 11 cm; rachis glabrous; second order prophylls c. 9 cm long; first order branches with 13-32 rachillae packed very densely in almost one plane; rachillae Jun-13 cm long, c. 8 x 5 mm diam., with dense flowers. STAMINATE FLOWERS with a tubular bract, 7-7.5 x 05-Jun mm, broadly ovate, acute; prophyll c. 6 mm long and 3 mm diam.; calyx tubular, 4.5-5 mm high, the lobes < 0.2 mm high, slightly ciliolate; corolla with a tube 02-Mar x 1.2-1.5 mm, the lobes 6-6.6 x 2.1-2.5 mm, narrowly ovate and acute, not thickened; stamens 6, inserted at the mouth of the tube, filaments slightly connate, 2-2.8 x 0.5-0.8 mm, anthers 3.2-3.6 x 1.2-1.3 mm, basifixed, locules slightly divergent and sagittate at the base; pistillode not seen. PISTILLATE FLOWERS with a tubular bract c. 10 x 9 mm, narrow at the base, widening in the tubular part and then narrowing to an acute apex; prophyll 7.5-8 mm, 2-keeled; bracteole 2.5-3.2 mm; calyx tubular and slightly urceolate, split, 5-6.5 mm
    Vernacular
    Raffia (general).
    Biology
    Moist situations (swamps, stream banks) near human habitations; 50-1000 m.
    Distribution
    Mainland Africa; in Madagascar probably introduced.
    Conservation
    Not threatened.
    [FWTA]
    Use
    The midribs providing the chief local material for house building.
    [PW]
    Use
    Fibres from young leaves used for a variety of crafts, including hat-making, fibre-weaving for clothing and basketry; petioles used in hut construction; fruits and hearts edible.

    Images

    Distribution

    Native to:

    Angola, Benin, Burkina, Cameroon, Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

    Introduced into:

    Mauritius, Réunion, Seychelles, Trinidad-Tobago

    Raphia farinifera (Gaertn.) Hyl. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Jan 1, 1995 Henderson, A.N. [757], Madagascar K000300258
    Dransfield, J. [JD7516], Madagascar K000114502
    Noblick, L.R. [5050], Madagascar K000300259
    Cultivated [156] K000114497

    First published in Lustgården 31-32: 88 (1952)

    Accepted by

    • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
    • Darbyshire, I., Kordofani, M., Farag, I., Candiga, R. & Pickering, H. (eds.) (2015). The Plants of Sudan and South Sudan: 1-400. Kew publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Timberlake, J.R. & Martins, E.S. (eds.) (2010). Flora Zambesiaca 13(2): 1-83. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Fischer, E., Rembold, K., Althof, A. & Obholzer, J. (2010). Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Kakamega forest, Western province, Kenya Journal of East African Natural History 99: 129-226.
    • Timberlake, J.R., Bayliss, J., Alves, T., Francisco, J., Harris, T., Nangoma, D. & de Sousa, C. (2009). Biodiversity and Conservation of Mchese Mountain, Malawi. Report produced under the Darwin Initiative Award 15/036: 1-71. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Meyer, J.-Y., Lavergne, C. & Hodel, D.R. (2008). Time bombs in gardens: invasive ornamental palms in tropical islands, with emphasis on French Polynesia (Pacific Ocean) and the Mascarenes (Indian Ocean) Palms; Journal of the International Palm Society 52: 23-35.
    • Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mt. Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34: 1-199.
    • Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Sita, P. & Moutsambote, J.-M. (2005). Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Congo, ed. sept. 2005: 1-158. ORSTOM, Centre de Brazzaville.

    Literature

    Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
    • J. Dransfield & H. Beentje, The Palms of Madagascar. 1995
    Flora of West Tropical Africa
    • Hepper in Bull. I.F.A.N. 28, Sér. A: 126 (1966).
    • Russell in Kew Bull. 19: 187, figs. 3B, 5C
    • in Lustgarten 31: 91 (1952)
    Kew Backbone Distributions
    • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
    • Meyer, J.-Y., Lavergne, C. & Hodel, D.R. (2008). Time bombs in gardens: invasive ornamental palms in tropical islands, with emphasis on French Polynesia (Pacific Ocean) and the Mascarenes (Indian Ocean) Palms; Journal of the International Palm Society 52: 23-35.
    • Sita, P. & Moutsambote, J.-M. (2005). Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Congo, ed. sept. 2005: 1-158. ORSTOM, Centre de Brazzaville.
    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    • Hamilton, Uganda For. Trees: 76 (1981).
    • Hylander in Lustgarden 31: 91 (1952).

    Sources

    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    [A] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Flora of West Tropical Africa
    Flora of West Tropical Africa
    [B] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2018. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [C] © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2018. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [D] © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
    Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet http://www.palmweb.org. Accessed on 21/04/2013
    [E] Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0