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). 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. 

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)


We are currently exploring new characters to accurately distinguish Hyphaene in living and herbarium material. This is interesting as abundant material in international herbaria is only represented at vegetative stage and living juvenile individuals of some related taxa (i.e. Borassus) do strongly resemble. Additional features, such as presence and distribution of epidermis trichomes and morphology of the phytoliths (= silica bodies) can be employed as alternative tools to identify Hyphaene samples. The latter study is product of a collaboration between the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Gaspar Morcote and Lauren Raz) and Fred Stauffer (Conservatory and Botanical Garden of Geneva)


Leaf surfaces showing trichomes (red arrows) in représentatives of Borasseae. Hyphaene compressa (left), specimen collected in Tanzania; Medemia argun (center), specimen cultivated at the Montgomery Botanical Center (Florida, USA); Borassus aethiopum (right), specimen collected in Ivory Coast.

 Phytoliths (known also as silica bodies) of Medemia argun (left), specimen cultivated at the Montgomery Botanical Center (Florida, USA), and Hyphaene compressa (right), specimen collected in Tanzania, displaying different morphologies (Photos Gaspar Morcote and Lauren Raz, Universidad Nacional de Colombia).


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