Ilala or Fan Palm?



Three Zebras (Equus quagga) pause in front of a magnificent pair of Real Fan Palms or Northern Ilala Palm (Hyphaene petersiana or H. benguellensis) in the Zambezi Valley. The origins of the palm in the Zambezi Valley, whatever is species, may seem obviously up-stream, or did they come up from the coast (then which coast, west or east)? The palm is found in abundance in the Victoria Falls area. Both palms yield an edible pith and material from the leaves is suitable for weaving. They produce clusters of fruits, hard, brown, ball-shaped, the core of which is a hard white substance frequently call vegetable ivory. Both baboons and elephant eat this fruit. The Southern Ilala or Lala Palm (H. Natalensis), apparently reaches much greater height than the Real Fan Palm and is more commonly distributed in the southern Zimbabwean Lowveld, where Shangaan tribesmen are known to reap the sap of the palm apparently for wine making.
(Canon 7D; f/5.6; 1/200sec; ISO-125; 105mm)

Picture ©2012 Andrew Field – Simply Wild Photography

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One thought on “Ilala or Fan Palm?

  1. Hi Andrew, Nice specimens these palms. I have seen H. petersiana all the way from the Kunene river system, down the Caprivi to the Zambezi delta. They are also quite widely distributed north of these systems into Angola and Zambia. The southern distribution is more widespread than Coates-Palgrave suggests in the southeastern lowveld. It would really be interesting to know if the northern and southern varieties are exactly the same.

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