Raphia farinifera (Gaertn.) Hyl.

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Raphia farinifera

Photo: Bart Wursten
Raphia Pool, Mohohwa R, Corner, Chimanimani

Raphia farinifera

Photo: Bart Wursten
Raphia Pool, Mohohwa R, Corner, Chimanimani

Raphia farinifera

Photo: Bart Wursten
Raphia Pool, Mohohwa R, Corner, Chimanimani

Raphia farinifera

Photo: Rhett Butler
Tingwa Raphia Palm Botanical Reserve

Raphia farinifera

Photo: Rhett Butler
Tingwa Raphia Palm Botanical Reserve

Raphia farinifera

Photo: Rhett Butler
Tingwa Raphia Palm Botanical Reserve

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: Raphia ruffia (Jacq.) Mart.
Common names: Raffia palm (English)
Frequency: Local
Status: Native
Large, stemless or short-stemmed palm tree. Leaves huge, up to 18 m, pinnate. Flowers unisexual in huge, branched inflorescences. Fruit oblong, with overlapping "polished', golden-brown scales.
Notes: In Zimbabwe, it is known from a few isolated populations only, the largest stand, called the Palm Block, at the northern end of the Great Dyke. The size of the tree is mainly due to the enormous leaves, which are considered to be the longest leaves in the plant kingdom.
Derivation of specific name:
Habitat: Peat dambos and on banks of perennial streams.
Altitude range: (metres) 400 - 1400 m
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: Angola, D.R. Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe; throughout southern tropical Africa, Madagascar.
Zimbabwe distribution: N,E
Growth form(s): Tree.
Endemic status:
Red data list status: Vulnerable
Insects associated with this species: Zophopetes dysmephyla (Larval foodplant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Images last updated: Friday 9 September 2011

Bingham, M.G. (2007). The Raffia Palm. Black Lechwe 15(2) Pages 16 - 17. (Includes a picture).

Burrows, J.E. & Willis, C.K. (eds) (2005). Plants of the Nyika Plateau Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 31 SABONET, Pretoria Page 289. (Includes a picture).

Burrows, J.E., Burrows, S.M., Lötter, M.C. & Schmidt, E. (2018). Trees and Shrubs Mozambique Publishing Print Matters (Pty), Cape Town. Page 50. (Includes a picture).

Coates Palgrave, K. (revised and updated by Meg Coates Palgrave) (2002). Trees of Southern Africa 3rd edition. Struik, South Africa Page 101.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F. (1989). The flora and phytogeography of the evergreen forests of Malawi. I: Afromontane and mid-altitude forests; Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belg. 59(1/2) Page 19.

Dransfield, J. (2010). Arecaceae Flora Zambesiaca 13(2) Pages 43 - 45. (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.

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 Page 85.

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

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Page 46.

White, F. (1962). Forest Flora of Northern Rhodesia Oxford Univ. Press. Page 12. As Raphia sp

White, F., Dowsett-Lemaire, F. & Chapman, J.D. (2001). Evergreen forest flora of Malawi Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Pages 107 - 108.

Wursten, B., Timberlake, J. & Darbyshire, I. (2017). The Chimanimani Mountains: an updated checklist. Kirkia 19(1) Page 81.

Other sources of information about Raphia farinifera:

Our websites:

Flora of Malawi: Raphia farinifera
Flora of Mozambique: Raphia farinifera
Flora of Zambia: Raphia farinifera

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Raphia farinifera
African Plant Database: Raphia farinifera
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Raphia farinifera
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Raphia farinifera
ePIC (electronic Plant Information Center): Raphia farinifera
Flora Zambesiaca web site: Raphia farinifera
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Raphia farinifera
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network): Raphia farinifera
iNaturalist: Raphia farinifera
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Raphia farinifera
JSTOR Plant Science: Raphia farinifera
Kew Herbarium catalogue: Raphia farinifera
Kew Monocotyledon checklist: Raphia farinifera
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Raphia farinifera
Plants of the World Online: Raphia farinifera
Tropicos: Raphia farinifera
Wikipedia: Raphia farinifera

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-23

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2023). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Raphia farinifera.
https://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=111960, retrieved 27 January 2023

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