Raphia regalis is an evergreen palm. The plant forms a short stem up to 1 metre long, but this is mainly buried underground so that the plant appears stemless. The stem is topped by a rosette of a few, very long, more or less erect leaves that can exceed 20 metres in length and are said to be the largest leaves of any plant[
The plant is commonly harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials.
This highly distinctive palm, with no aerial trunk and with leaves rating amongst the largest in the plant kingdom, is likely under-recorded due to difficulties in collecting specimens of it, and in the fact that it has received limited taxonomic attention. Continuing decline is inferred because of extensive forest clearance for timber and for agricultural expansion in Nigeria and Bakossi. Selective felling for use in building and tapping of palm wine, mainly in Nigeria, poses a serious threat. The species may well be more threatened than the current lisiting indicates. The plant is classified as 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
West tropical Africa - Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, DR Congo, Angola.
The sides and summits of wooded slopes in wet forest, often on ridges, where it may be gregarious; at elevations from 500 - 850 metres[
]. Usually found on acid soils[
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A monocarpic plant - growing for several years without flowering, then producing a massive inflorescence and dying after setting seed[
The stems are tapped for their sap, which is fermented to make an alcoholic drink[
The leaves have a wide range of uses - the leaflets being used for thatching and weaving whilst the midribs are used for construction, paddles, making furniture etc[
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