Welcome to the site of the Hyphaene Inventory Project!

This is the site of the project Hyphaene, one of the research activities undertaken by the Conservatory and Botanical Garden of Geneva towards the study of African palms. The information here presented aims to expand our current knowledge of the enigmatic genus of the widely known “Doum” palms, Hyphaene (7-8 species), which ranks among the most economically important, yet extremely poorly known African palm genera (Stauffer et al., 2014) (Stauffer et al., 2018). The genus was monographed about 90 years ago, and our project aims to undertake modern taxonomic, morpho-anatomical, phylogenetic, ecological and conservation studies of the group. Our broad initiative on the study of African palm taxa is part of the 50 projects associated to the 2012-2016 African program of the University of Geneva. Current efforts concentrate in West African palm taxa (Stauffer et al., 2017).

We are keen to receive your feed-back on the “Hyphaene World”!. All your photos, field information, etc. are most welcomed. Contact us

This Project is kindly supported by the A. Lombard (2015) Extraordinary Grant, awarded by the Société de Physique et d’Histoire Naturelle de Genève (SPHN)


The first species-level phylogenetic analysis of the genus Hyphaene has been recently produced by Camille Christe, Yamama Naciri and Mathieu Perret from the laboratory of the Unité de Phylogénie et Génétique Moléculaires of the Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Geneva. It is based on NGS techniques and is represented by up to 160 individuals sampled in at least 10 African countries. Five species are clearly recognized within the genus, whereas some hybrids individuals, mostly of cultivated origin, could be also detected. On-going analyses will provide critical information on the systematics and evolutionary history of the genus.

First species-level phylogeny produced for the enigmatic palm genus Hyphaene. Several important questions on the systematic relationships within the genus, evolutionary history of the aerial branching growth, typical for some species, and ages of origin and diversification, can be now addressed in a phylogenetic context. Note that the rare north-west Indian species H. dichotoma is not genetically different from the  morphologically closed H. compressa. This striking result was obtained by sequencing DNA extracted from leaves of H. dichotoma collected in India in 1908 and stored in the Kew herbarium. Thanks to Regine Niba for her skilled lab work and Sidonie Bellot and Bill Baker at Kew for sharing this precious specimen.

Distribution map of species within Hyphaene. The species Hyphaene macrosperma (Benin, Nigeria) and H. reptans (Somalia, Yemen) remain poorly known due to lack of specimens.



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