Elaeis guineensis Jacq. (oil palm) fluctuations in central Africa during the late Holocene: climate or human driving forces for this pioneering species?

Abstract.

The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is naturally abundant in all the African rain forests. Because this tree is a heliophytic, pioneering species, it can rapidly colonize the periphery of the rain forest and gaps created inside, regardless of the cause. In the majority of traditional African societies, people exploit natural oil palm groves; no attempt is made to propagate the palm by sowing or transplanting seedlings. The late Holecene phase of dramatic forest decline, around 2500 uncal. B.P., was particularly favourable to oil palm expansion. The scale and timing of this palaeoenvironmental variation, and the subsequent response of this pioneer tree, cannot be interpreted as indicating human activities, let alone an indication of cultivation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

Received December 4, 2000 / Accepted March 8, 2001

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Maley, J., with the collaboration of Alex Chepstow-Lusty, . Elaeis guineensis Jacq. (oil palm) fluctuations in central Africa during the late Holocene: climate or human driving forces for this pioneering species?. Veget Hist Archaeobot 10, 117–120 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1007/PL00006920

Download citation

  • Key words: African rain forest – Late Holocene palaeoenvironments – Climatic change –Elaeis guineensis– African traditional societies