When we hear the words ‘palm oil’, most of us would assume that this refers to the oil extracted from a palm tree. However, things aren’t quite that simple.
Palm oil does come from palm trees, but only from particular species, namely Elaeis guineensis, Elaeis oleifera and Attalea maripa.
Some people assume that ‘palm trees’ are a single species, but in fact there are lot of different species that come under this umbrella.
Arecaceae, or palms, are a family of plants that include several species of palm trees as well as shrubs, climbers and stemless plants.
Palm oil is primarily produced from Elaeis guineensis, a species of palm tree also known as the African oil palm. This tree is native to west and southwest Africa, but has been introduced in southeast Asia and Central America.
Palm oil can also be produced from Elaeis oleifera and Attalea maripa, two other species of palm tree.
These trees have a palm fruit and palm kernel (the seed), which both contain palm oil.
Does Palm Oil Come from Coconut Trees?
No, palm oil trees are in the same family as coconut trees, but they aren’t the same plant.
The coconut tree’s Latin name is Cocos nucifera. It’s in the same palm family (Arecaceae) as the trees used to produce palm oil, but is a different species and belongs to a different genus (Cocos).
You can’t produce palm oil from a coconut tree as they don’t have palm fruit or palm kernels.
Coconut oil is a completely different thing to palm oil, even though both come from trees that look quite similar.
Coconut oil is extracted from the kernel of mature coconuts, which aren’t actually nuts but are rather drupes (stone fruits like peaches, plums etc.)