We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Palm Oil Trees?

By Anna Harrison
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
All Things Nature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All Things Nature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Palm oil trees are tropical plants that are native to West Africa, but are now grown in many areas as an agricultural crop. Plantations now exist all over Africa and South America, as well as other areas, that grow them on a large scale and process the oil for commercial sale. Palm oil manufacturers have made these trees the top producing fruit trees in the world. As more plantations are created, however, they often destroy rainforests and bogs, which has created a host of environmental problems.

While palm oil trees grow from 60 to 80 feet (18 to 24 m) tall, trees that are cultivated for their fruit are usually kept pruned to less than 30 feet (9.1 m) to make it easier to harvest. They do not require a great deal of growing space and as many as 58 trees are planted in a single acre. Individual trees do not produce side branches, but a single tall trunk with very long leaf fronds and fruit at the top. Older trees are often killed when they become too large to make room for the more productive younger trees.

Palm oil trees will grow in virtually any type of soil as long as they have plenty of water and direct sunlight. They thrive in tropical lowlands and peat bogs that receive as much as 6 feet (1.8 m) of rain per year. Hot temperatures between 80° and 90° Fahrenheit (26.7° to 32.2° Celsius) are optimal for growing palm oil trees. Below this range, they will grow more slowly and will also take longer to produce fruit.

Fruits of the palm oil trees are called drupes, and each mature female tree produces from 200 to 300 each year. Small in size, the oblong fruits range from 1 to 2 inches (2.5 cm), and take about 5 months to ripen. They change in color from green to orange as they ripen and may be partly black or brown. The oil is obtained from the small white seeds within the fruit.

The palm oil industry employs several steps to obtain oil from the fruits. First, they are sterilized them with steam and then crushed and heated; the oil is then pressed out and then clarified. Before it is ready for commercial sale, it is deodorized and refined, which removes fatty acids, pigments, and phospholipids. After all of these processes are completed, the bleached and refined palm oil is ready to be packaged and transported to retail outlets. Large mills may process as much as 60 tons of fruit in an hour, while small rural village mills average just one ton in an eight-hour day.

In many areas where palm oil trees are grown, the natural environment is being destroyed. Rainforests are cut down and peat bogs are drained, and, as a result, habitats for many animals are eliminated, including the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros, and the orangutan, which are already critically endangered. Greenhouse gas emissions are also increased with the production of palm oil.

Many companies now take part in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, which is attempting to address these problems with the palm oil manufacturers. They are trying to force businesses to produce palm oil in a way that is safe for the environment. Consumers can help by buying palm oil that is certified sustainable, or by using other oils such as those produced by corn, safflower, and canola oil plantations. These oils are not only safer for the environment, but healthier as well.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.