Skip to main content
This genus is accepted, and its native range is Tropical & S. Africa to Sri Lanka.
Hyphaene coriacea

[FTEA]

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

Morphology General Habit
Small to robust, solitary or clustering pleonanthic dioecious palms
Morphology Trunk
Trunk usually branching by repeated forking, apparently truly dichotomous, the forking sometimes apparently occurring underground, thus giving rise to a clump of even-sized trunks, in one species the trunk flattened and prostrate, in another almost always unbranched and ventricose; trunk when young clothed with persistent leaf-bases, these then rotting or succumbing to burning leaving a clean trunk
Morphology Leaves
Leaves borne spirally; leaf-base partially sheathing, split to produce a central triangular cleft; petiole usually well developed, usually semi-circular in cross-section, densely armed with reflexed or upward-pointing spines, often also bearing stellate scales and wax; adaxial hastula conspicuous except in very young seedling leaves, frequently asymmetrical, markedly oblique, often, especially in young leaves, partially obscured by dense hairs and scales; blade often conspicuously costapalmate, divided to about 1/3 the length of the folds into single fold induplicate segments, filaments often conspicuous at the sinuses; lamina-surfaces frequently waxy and dotted with black scales; longitudinal and transverse veinlets inconspicuous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences basically similar, though the ♂ frequently more slender and more highly branched than the ♀; axis frequently flattened towards the base, bearing a basal, empty, 2-keeled tubular prophyll and 1 or 2 tubular peduncular bracts with short triangular limbs; rachis longer than the peduncle; bracts frequently densely stellate hairy; first-order branches usually markedly compressed, semi-circular in cross-section, elongate, bearing at the tip 1–13 rachillae (in ♀ usually 1 or 2 only) in a fascicle, each subtended by a small triangular bract; rachillae bearing imbricate, spirally arranged, laterally connate bracts, each enclosing a floral pit, often densely filled with fluffy hairs
sex Male
Male flowers borne in groups of 3 forming a cincinnus, embedded in hairs, one flower exposed at a time; calyx tubular at the base, with 3 apical cucullate lobes; corolla stalk-like at the base, with 3 apical triangular imbricate lobes, reflexed at anthesis; stamens 6, borne at the base of the corolla-lobes with short filaments and basifixed anthers; pistillode minute
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Female flower solitary in the axil of each bract, much larger than the ♂, borne on a densely pubescent pedicel; sepals 3, free, imbricate, rounded; petals 3, free, imbricate, rounded, similar to the sepals; staminodal ring membranous, with 6 teeth, each tipped with minute empty anthers; ovary globose, with 3 apical, triangular, ± sessile stigmas, 3-locular, usually only 1 ovule developing to anthesis, the ovary hence asymmetrical, but occasionally with all carpels equally developed Male flowers borne in groups of 3 forming a cincinnus, embedded in hairs, one flower exposed at a time; calyx tubular at the base, with 3 apical cucullate lobes; corolla stalk-like at the base, with 3 apical triangular imbricate lobes, reflexed at anthesis; stamens 6, borne at the base of the corolla-lobes with short filaments and basifixed anthers; pistillode minute
sex Female
Female flower solitary in the axil of each bract, much larger than the ♂, borne on a densely pubescent pedicel; sepals 3, free, imbricate, rounded; petals 3, free, imbricate, rounded, similar to the sepals; staminodal ring membranous, with 6 teeth, each tipped with minute empty anthers; ovary globose, with 3 apical, triangular, ± sessile stigmas, 3-locular, usually only 1 ovule developing to anthesis, the ovary hence asymmetrical, but occasionally with all carpels equally developed
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit extremely variable, borne on the enlarged pedicel, the perianth-segments persistent but hardly enlarging; stigmatic remains basal; epicarp sometimes pitted, coloured various shades of brown; mesocarp fibrous, often aromatic and edible; endocarp hard, stony; endosperm homogeneous, hollow; embryo apical
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Germination remote-tubular; seedling leaf simple, plicate.

[PW]
Vernacular
Doum palms.
Diagnostic
Moderate solitary or clustered dioecious fan palms, usually in the drier parts of Africa and Arabia, with outliers in western India and possibly Sri Lanka, rarely in rain forest areas, often with dichotomously branched stems, distinctive in the very spiny petioles and often irregularly shaped fruit with smooth endocarp and homogeneous endosperm.
Distribution
Numerous names have been published, but there are probably only about eight species distributed in the drier parts of Africa southwards to Natal, Madagascar, the Red Sea and the coasts of the Gulf of Eilat, Arabia, and western India. One species recorded for Sri Lanka may be an introduction.
Morphology
Leaf (Tomlinson 1961), root (Seubert 1997).
General Description
Dwarf to large, solitary or clustered, spiny, pleonanthic, dioecious, acaulescent, creeping, shrubby or tree palms. Stem closely ringed with slightly raised leaf scars, usually branching several times by equal forking (dichotomy), rarely unbranched, and then sometimes the trunk ventricose; trunk surface in juveniles with a lattice of old leaf bases, later becoming bare. Leaves induplicate, costapalmate, marcescent, later abscising under their own weight; sheath soon becoming open, densely tomentose, later with a conspicuous triangular cleft below the petiole, margins fibrous; petiole robust, covered in caducous indumentum, adaxially channelled, abaxially rounded, the margins armed with robust, triangular, reflexed or upward pointing spines; adaxial hastula well developed, often asymmetrical, abaxial hastula absent; blade divided to about 1/3 its length along the adaxial ribs into single-fold segments, these further shallowly divided along the abaxial ribs; interfold filaments often conspicuous; blade surfaces frequently glaucous with abundant wax, and also bearing minute dot-like scales and caducous indumentum, particularly along the ribs, midrib prominent, longitudinal veins close, transverse veinlets inconspicuous. Inflorescences interfoliar, the staminate and pistillate basically similar, though the pistillate more robust and with fewer branches; peduncle bearing a basal, 2-keeled, tubular prophyll and usually 2 empty, tubular peduncular bracts with triangular limbs, bearing abundant caducous indumentum when young; rachis longer than the peduncle; rachis bracts like the peduncular but each subtending a first-order branch; first-order branches basally bare, semicircular in cross-section, ±included in the subtending bract, terminating, in the staminate inflorescence, in a group of 1–6 or rarely more rachillae, each subtended by a low bract, in the pistillate inflorescence terminating in 1–3 rachillae; rachillae catkin-like, bearing a tight spiral of rounded, densely hairy, striate bracts, connate laterally and partially adnate to the axis to produce pits, densely filled with a pile of hairs. Staminate flowers borne in a cincinnus of 3 flowers, embedded in the hairs, one flower emerging at a time, each bearing a small membranous bracteole; calyx tubular at the base with 3 elongate hooded, membranous lobes; corolla with a conspicuous stalk-like base almost as large as the calyx lobes, bearing at its tip 3 ovate, hooded, valvate, striate lobes; stamens 6, borne at the base of the lobes, the filaments ± connate at their swollen bases, tapering above, anthers medifixed, versatile, latrorse to introrse; pistillode minute, 3-lobed. Pollen ellipsoidal, bi-symmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, finely perforate-rugulate, with psilate supratectal gemmae, aperture margin similar but with fewer gemmae; infratectum columellate; longest axis 30–44 µm; post-meiotic tetrads usually tetrahedral, sometimes tetragonal or, rarely, rhomboidal [4/10]. Pistillate flowers borne singly with a bracteole in each pit, on a short densely hairy pedicel, the pedicel sometimes considerably elongating after fertilisation; sepals 3, distinct, rounded, imbricate, ± membranous, striate; petals 3, similar to sepals; staminodial ring epipetalous, 6-toothed, the teeth bearing sagittate, flattened, empty anthers; gynoecium globose, tricarpellate, triovulate, stigmas 3, short, septal nectaries present, opening by pores distally, ovules orthotropous, attached adaxially at the base of each carpel. Fruit borne on enlarged pedicel with persistent perianth segments, normally developing from 1 carpel, rarely 2 or 3, the fruit then 2- or 3-lobed, with basal stigmatic remains, the whole fruit very variable in shape, shouldered, distally expanded, usually asymmetrical, rarely ovoid or spherical; epicarp smooth, dull or shining, often pitted with lenticels, coloured various shades of brown, mesocarp fibrous, often aromatic, dry but sweet, endocarp well developed, hard, stony. Seed basally attached, endosperm homogeneous with a central hollow; embryo apical opposite a thinner area of the endocarp. Germination remote-tubular; eophyll simple, lanceolate, plicate. Cytology: 2n = 36.
Biology
Hyphaene species tend to grow in arid or semiarid areas, in habitats where ground water is near the surface, e.g., along seasonal water-courses, coastal sand dunes and flats, and oases. In east Africa, H. compressa can be found inland at altitudes up to 1400 m above sea level. One species, H. guineensis, is found in coastal habitats in Gabon in areas with high rainfall. All species seem to be used by man; thus their distribution has been much influenced by destructive harvesting and accidental or deliberate planting. Elephants and baboons, among other wild animals, are responsible for seed dispersal. Bees have been observed visiting the flowers.

[FSOM]

M. Thulin et al. Flora of Somalia, Vol. 1-4 [updated 2008] https://plants.jstor.org/collection/FLOS

Morphology General Habit
Palms small to robust, solitary or clustered, dioecious; trunk unbranched, or usually dichotomously branched (forking), sometimes prostrate and underground
Morphology Leaves
Leaves costapalmate; petiole base with a conspicuous central triangular cleft; petiole armed with spines; blade divided to c. 1/3 of the length into single-fold induplicate segments, filaments often conspicuous at the sinuses
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences basically similar, but the male ones often more slender and highly branched than the female
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens 6, inserted at the base of the inner tepals; anthers basifixed; pistillode minute
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Female flowers solitary in the axil of each bract, much larger than the male, outer and inner tepals similar, 3, free, imbricate, rounded; staminodal ring with 6 teeth, each tipped with minute empty anthers Male flowers in groups of 3, embedded in hairs, one flower exposed at a time; outer tepals 3, united into a tube below; inner tepals 3, united into a tube with imbricate lobes, reflexed at anthesis
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary globose with 3 apical triangular ± sessile stigmas, 3-celled, usually only 1 ovule developing
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit borne on the enlarged pedicel; stigmatic remains basal; epicarp sometimes pitted, mesocarp fibrous, often edible, endocarp hard, stony.
Distribution
Some 10 species though probably fewer, widespread in tropical and subtropical Africa, Arabia and southern Asia.
Note
Dransfield in Fl. Trop. E. Afr. (1986) drastically reduced the number of species of Hyphaene (doum palms) in East Africa and some further names are reduced to synonyms. However, the number of good collections from Somalia is very limited and the present account has to be regarded as provisional.
Conservation
All species in Somalia are much used by man and many populations appear to be decreasing.

[PW]
Use
The doum palms are locally very important, particularly to subsistence farmers. The leaves are used for thatch and as a source of fibre for plaiting. The apex is often semi-destructively tapped to make palm wine. Wood can be used. The fruits provide an edible mesocarp and an endosperm, edible when young, but formerly used when mature as a source of vegetable ivory. All fallen parts of the palms are used as fuel.

[FSOM]
Use
Used for thatching and for making baskets and mats, and for the wood.

Native to:

Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina, Burundi, Cabinda, Cameroon, Caprivi Strip, Central African Repu, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Ivory Coast, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Mozambique Channel I, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Palestine, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sinai, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Introduced into:

Netherlands Antilles

Hyphaene Gaertn. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Dec 27, 1996 Gibbons, M. [s.n.], Sudan K000525827
Hepper [5724], Yemen K000208669
Pratt [YS71], Yemen K000208664
Hepper [5726], Yemen K000208665

First published in Fruct. Sem. Pl. 2: 13 (1790)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Literature

Palmweb - Palms of the World Online

  • J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008

Flora of West Tropical Africa

  • F.T.A. 8: 118.
  • Fruct. 1: 28 (1788)

Flora of Somalia

  • Beccari, Palme Borass.: 18–49 (1924).
  • Flora Somalia, Vol 4, (1995) Author: by M. Thulin [updated by M. Thulin 2008]

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Becc., Palme Borass.: 18–49 (1924)
  • Furtado in Garcia de Orta 15: 427–460 (1967)
  • Gard. Bull., Singapore 25: 283–334 (1970)
  • in De Fruct. 1: 28 (1788)

Flora of Somalia
Flora of Somalia
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

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

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© 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 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© 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
Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0