Elaeis (from Greek, meaning “oil”) is a genus of palms containing two species, called oil palms. They are used in commercial agriculture in the production of palm oil. The American oil palm Elaeis oleifera (from Latin oleifer, meaning “oil-producing”) is native to tropical Central and South America,and is used locally for oil production.
Mature palms are single-stemmed, and can grow well over 20 m (66 ft) tall. The leaves are pinnate, and reach between 3–5 m (10–16 ft) long. The flowers are produced in dense clusters; each individual flower is small, with three sepals and three petals.
The palm fruit is reddish, about the size of a large plum, and grows in large bunches. Each fruit is made up of an oily, fleshy outer layer (the pericarp), with a single seed (the palm kernel), also rich in oil.