Scientific Name: Hyphaene petersiana (benguellensis)
Common names: Real fan palm, Makalani Palm,Mokolane palm, Omurungu , Omulunga, Waaier palm
Description: This is a massive up to 20 m tall, solitary sometimes multi stemmed palm, which usually has a ventricose trunk (i.e. swollen in the middle). It has very large, strongly
cost palmate leaves that are gray green in colour, with stiff segments that are held in a rounded crown. They have a large, round fruit, dark brown with a ginger flavoured sweet tasting flesh with a hard white nut inside which is 3 to 5 cm in diameter. The flowers sexes separate on
Nutritive uses: The Makalani fruit self is eaten by baboons and elephants
and sometimes by the locals, the popularity of the palm comes from a palm wine
that is made from it's sap, the sap itself is a refreshing liquid tasting a lot
like ginger beer made from rosine and ginger but after a day or two of fermentation it became quite potent and can produce a lot of fun and one hell of a headache
Other uses: The white inner kern are used as a vegetable ivory and can be seen as beautiful sculptures , the leaves of the palm are used for roof cover and for the weaving of baskets the colours of the baskets come from
different plants, two plants used as dye are the Bird plum ( Berchemia discolor) and Gwarrie bos (Euclea divinorum). The leaves can also be used as a low quality rope.
Interesting Facts: Animals and birds associated are Baboons, monkeys,
elephants and the birds Palm Swift (Cypsiurus parvus) and Collared Palmthrush (Cichladusa
The milk in young fruit is similar to coconut milk in taste
and colouring. The newly formed palm leaves, which are crisp at their base and
have a pleasant coconut flavour. The young leaves are very popular with elephant
and they will destroy a whole young palm just to get to the fresh shoots.
Local tribal people in northern Namibia, Botswana and
southern Angola also utilise the base of the young leave as part of their food.
Some tribes will pick the fruits, place them in pits, and allow them to form
shoots. These fresh shoots taste quite good.
The crown-heart of the stem is eaten as a vegetable and is
known as ‘gau’ in Botswana.
Elephant love to eat the fruit, and there-for also
responsible for the spreading of the palm.
Another interesting fact is about the Palm Swift, which is
closely associated with the Makalani / Mokolwane palm. They can be seen nesting
in a vertical position below the palm leaves. These swifts have evolved a unique
way of preventing their eggs from falling from the nest, by using their saliva
to glue them in place.
Credits: Christian Fourie @ Gateway Africa Safaris