Exotic travellers palm
Scientific name: Ravenala madagascariensis;
English Name: Travellers palm
Local Name: Malala
Medium-sized evergreen tree, up to 20–30m tall; trunk solitary or branched at base, cylindrical, woody, ring-scarred, olive green and smooth or grey and fissured, apical third clothed by leaf bases; crown fan-like, with 20 or more leaves.
The traveller’s palm is commonly planted for ornamental purposes. The leaves are arranged into 2 rows, giving the impression of a gigantic fan. The vernacular names are an indication of the alleged use by travellers, who are said to have drunk rain water accumulated in the basal cup of the petiole and in the flower bracts. Ravenala madagascariensis’ leaves are used for roofing, the petioles for walls and the bark for floors in houses. The stem is used in house construction, the leaves for packing material and for roofing, and the midribs and petioles for hut walls. Sugar can be extracted from the sap of the trunk. The seeds are edible, but mealy, and the edible arils are tasteless. The seed oil is sometimes used for cooking, and is reported to be antiseptic.
The pith from the trunk is used as a fodder for livestock.
Prefers a fertile, moist, but well-drained soil in a sunny or partially shaded position.The leaves are shredded by the wind unless the plant is grown in a sheltered position. It grows on deforested slopes at elevations between 300 - 600 metres. Seed is best sown in a moist, sandy soil at 20°c.
The seed oil is reported to be used as an antiseptic.