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Photo of palm

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Our picture of African palms is restricted to idyllic scenes along the Nile. In fact most of the continent is hospitable to these trees, which are in fact more closely related to grasses than to other trees. This one, from Liwonde National Park, Malawi, is a borassus palm (Borassus aethiopum)—a common species in lowland areas along river floodplains. The leaves are up to 4 metres (12 feet) long and the large fruits, from 9 to 18 cm (3.5 to 7 inches) diameter, are especially favored by elephants.

Learn about palm natural history

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