Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Lala Palm, Hyphaene coriacea
I have always admired these awesome indigenous, very KwaZulu-Natal palms. There are two specimens near the Ellis Park tea room in Romsey Grove, Durban North. Somewhere in my archive of photographs I have a picture of a bakkie laden with Lala Palm leaves heading for market, to make brooms no doubt. One cannot find a similar broom in other provinces; these brooms are unique to our area. The leaves are a stunning grey.
Hugh Glenn has written up a great description http://www.plantzafrica.com/planthij/hyphaencor.htm . Here are a few interesting points from his write up summarised by Rosemary Harrison:
English-lala palm or sometimes gingerbread tree/isiZulu-ilala/Afrikaans-waaierpalm.
This palm grows upto 5m tall. It has big fan-shaped leaves. It is relatively slow-growing.
It grows near rivers and is also common in the coastal belt, north of Durban, from Mthunzini, northwards.
The plants flower from November to February. The fruit takes two years to ripen and this can stay on the palm for a further two years, before falling.
Elephants and baboons eat this fruit, and therefore disperse it to various regions. Apparently, in this manner, the fruit can take only a month to germinate. Birds like to nest in these Lala Palms, because it is quite spiny, so detracting the predators.
There is a big craft market, that the fibre of this Palm supports, such as, baskets, mats, etc.
A palm wine is made from the sap and is a source of Vitamin B.