What is oil palm tree?

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What is oil palm tree? Scientifically in biodiversity taxonomy, oil palm is under Arecaceae palm family. There are two common species: Elaeis guineensis and Elaeis oleifera. Elaeis is a Greek word, meaning oil. Elaeis guineensis originate natively from west and southwest Africa between Angola and Gambia, whereas Elaeis oleifera is American oil palm species native to tropical Central and South America. Oleifera here come from English word ‘oliferous’, meaning ‘oil-producing’)

So, what is oil palm tree?

Oil palm tree, from what the name indicates, produces oil palm fruits. Oil could be extracted from the pulp and the fruit. Palm oil is edible and nutritious. Oil can also be extracted from the palm kernel, which is used in foods and for soap manufacture. The palm fruit takes five to six months to mature from pollination to maturity. It about the size of a large plum and it is not singled out but bundles with each others in large bunches. The fruit is reddish. Each fruit is made up of an oily, fleshy outer layer (the pericarp), with a single seed (the palm kernel), also rich in oil. When ripe, each bunch of fruit weighs 40–50 kg (88–110 lb).

More on oil palm facts, the high oil yield of oil palm trees (as high as 7,250 liters per hectare per year) has made it a common cooking ingredient in Southeast Asia and the tropical belt of Africa. Its increasing use in the commercial food industry in other parts of the world is buoyed by its cheaper pricing, the high oxidative stability of the refined product, and high levels of natural antioxidants. Since palm oil contains more saturated fats than oils made from canola, corn, linseed, soybeans, safflower, and sunflowers, it can withstand extreme deep-frying heat and resists oxidation.

It seems that when a person is asking: ‘what is oil palm tree,’ the focus is merely on the oil that can be extracted. Yet, the value is not just the oil. After oil extraction, the residual empty fruit bundle can be further processed to make oil palm fiber and pellets.