Lala palm,Ilala palm, Gingerbread tree, Fan palm..

Lala palm, ilala palm, gingerbread tree, fan palm (Hyphaene coriacea)

This palm is often seen growing near but not on the banks of rivers in knob thorn-marula savannah on basalt. In the Kruger Park both southern African species of Hyphaene may be found quite close to each other. It is also common in coastal sand from Somalia to South Africa, and in Madagascar. This common and widespread palm neither needs nor receives protection. The estimated population in Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) alone is at over 10 000 000 individuals.

Plants flower in summer (November-February in our area), and the fruit takes two years to ripen; ripe fruit may remain attached to the tree for a further two years before falling. Elephants and baboons are known to eat and presumably disperse the fruits of this palm. Nichols (2001) reports examining seeds from elephant dung-each of them was cracked and when planted germinated within 30 days, whereas non cracked seeds took at least 90 days or longer. The palm cunningly uses the elephant to carry its seed well away from the mother plant and deposit it ready chipped for germination along with a large pile of manure to aid growth!

As a youngster I used to collect this seed and shave off the outer skins to get to the white centre which is known as “vegetable Ivory”, it is extremely hard and as school kids we played the equivalent of conkers with these seeds. Ones only success was in breaking the others string, never the seed itself… they are often seen decorating the head of a walking stick or carve into small tourist trade shapes…

These are on the golf course at Southbroom and it looks as though the wind has something to do with their growing shape…

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Even one growing in the middle of the ninth green…

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The seed hanging on the palm…

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and a close up of the seed…

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48 thoughts on “Lala palm,Ilala palm, Gingerbread tree, Fan palm..

    • These are endemic to Africa’s east coast south of the equator… but they are such slow growers I can understand why they have never been exported to other countries for gardens… if you planted one in the garden your grand children would enjoy it….

  1. Palm trees make me think of Palm Sunday – it is a big thing in my country a week prior to Easter 😀 I have never seen its seed. :O Thank you for the post, Bulldog!

    • It is too hard… even the elephant don’t get it eaten… the outer shell is edible as is the inner pith, un like the coconut… but the inner is as tough as rock…

    • The Elephant love this fruit… the outer part is very like a ginger bread in texture and taste… as a kid we actually use to eat the pithy part before spending hours scraping off the inner skin the get to the ivory… it has been used by the indigenous people for making beads and small animals for years… and very artistically done too…

  2. I am laughing. I just wrote about palm trees in my post. This was a great thing to find as I turn to my reader. You and Linda are quite the blessings this morning!!! Thank you! They are lovely trees and pictures.

  3. These beautiful trees always makes me think of tropical island getaways. We have a few here too. Great post and photo’s my friend. 😀 *hugs*

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