Borassus aethiopum Mart.

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Borassus aethiopum

Photo: Mike Bingham

Borassus aethiopum

Kafue Flats.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Borassus aethiopum

Lusaka SE 13km; May 2008.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Borassus aethiopum

Mazabuku, Lublinkhof; Oct 1992.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Borassus aethiopum

Nanga; Oct 1973
Photo: Mike Bingham

Borassus aethiopum

Male; Nanga; Oct 1973
Photo: Mike Bingham

Borassus aethiopum

Avalon; Nov 1992.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Borassus aethiopum

Drawing: Suzanne Carter

Borassus aethiopum

Male flowers
Drawing: Patricia Bingham

Borassus aethiopum

Drawing: Suzanne Carter

Specimen citations: Display citations Detailed records: Display species records QDS maps by: Google Maps Point records by Google Maps

Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Borassus flabellifer L. var. aethiopum (Mart.) Warb.
Common names: Cibangalala (Bemba) Kahuma (Tonga: Zambia) Kakoma (Nyanja) Kakunka (Lenje) Muhuma (Ila)
Frequency: Locally abundant
Status: Native
Dioecious trees; stems often swollen in upper half. Leaves very large, persistent but eventually falling to leave a bare trunk; petiole armed with irregular black teeth, varying greatly in size and shape; lamina palmate or costapalmate, divided into numerous usually bifid segments; leaf segments with conspicuous cross-veins and lacking black spots. Inflorescences axillary. Male inflorescences composed of 3-6 partial inflorescences the branches of which terminate in 3 or more cylindric flower-bearing branches, each bearing pits enclosing a cincinnus of male flowers. Male flowers: sepals 3; corolla 3-lobed; stamens 6. Female inflorescence different to the male; simple or with 1-2 branches, each bearing large connate bracts with a solitary female flower in each axis. Female flowers: sepals 3; petals 3, similar to sepals; staminodes 6; ovary spherical, 3-locular. Fruit rounded, containing 1-3 pyrenes, with stigmatic remains borne at the apex.
Type location:
Notes: Major populations were destroyed when the Kafue Gorge dam flooded the habitat.
Widespread; not threatened.
Derivation of specific name: aethiopum: Ethiopia, the name of the sub-Saharan biological region before the country formerly known as Abyssinia claimed the name Ethiopia.
Habitat: Floodplain alluvium, munga woodland and wooded grassland on dolomitic soils, and occasionally on termite mounds in miombo woodland.
Altitude range: 30 - 1200 m
Flowering time:Aug - Oct
Worldwide distribution: Sudanian, Zambezian and Coastal phytochoria, extending to northern South Africa.
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): B,N,W,C,E,S
Zambian distribution (Provinces): Nw,Cb,Lp,N,Mc,E,C,Lk,S,(W)
Growth form(s): Tree, shrub over 2 m.
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species: Zophopetes dysmephyla (Larval foodplant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Monday 27 October 2014

Burrows, J.E., Burrows, S.M., Lötter, M.C. & Schmidt, E. (2018). Trees and Shrubs Mozambique Publishing Print Matters (Pty), Cape Town. Page 51. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 9.

Coates Palgrave, K. (revised and updated by Meg Coates Palgrave) (2002). Trees of Southern Africa 3rd edition. Struik, South Africa

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. & Amude, A.B. (2004). A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 30 Sabonet, Pretoria Page 120.

Dransfield, J. (2010). Arecaceae Flora Zambesiaca 13(2) Pages 61 - 63. (Includes a picture).

Drummond, R.B. (1975). A list of trees, shrubs and woody climbers indigenous or naturalised in Rhodesia. Kirkia 10(1) Page 232.

Fanshawe, D.B. (). District vegetation reports Division of Forest Research, Kitwe (roneo).

Fanshawe, D.B. (1971). The Vegetation of Zambia. Division of Forest Research, Kitwe.

Fowler, D.G. (2007). Zambian Plants: Their Vernacular Names and Uses, Kew Publishing

Golding, J.S. (ed.) (2002). Zimbabwe Plant Red Data List. Southern African Plant Red Data Lists. SABONET 14 Page 162.

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32

White, F. (1962). Forest Flora of Northern Rhodesia Oxford Univ. Press.

White, F. (1983). The Vegetation of Africa. A descriptive memoir. UNESCO, Paris

Other sources of information about Borassus aethiopum:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Borassus aethiopum
Flora of Malawi: Borassus aethiopum
Flora of Mozambique: Borassus aethiopum
Flora of Zimbabwe: Borassus aethiopum
Flora of Zimbabwe: cultivated Borassus aethiopum

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Borassus aethiopum
African Plant Database: Borassus aethiopum
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Borassus aethiopum
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Borassus aethiopum
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Borassus aethiopum
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Borassus aethiopum
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Borassus aethiopum
JSTOR Plant Science: Borassus aethiopum
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Borassus aethiopum
Plants of the World Online: Borassus aethiopum
Tropicos: Borassus aethiopum
Wikipedia: Borassus aethiopum

Copyright: Mike Bingham, Annette Willemen, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Mark Hyde, 2011-24

Bingham, M.G., Willemen, A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. and Hyde, M.A. (2024). Flora of Zambia: Species information: Borassus aethiopum., retrieved 24 April 2024

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