Oil palm seeds, though they all look alike from the outside, actually consist of different types of varieties. These seeds have differences in sizes. Some of the fruit types are bigger than the others. Also, the pulp, which is the oily part of the seed, is not the same size while some kernels do not have shells at all. These differences among the varieties are based on the type of seeds.
There are generally three types of oil palm seeds commonly found; dura palms, pisifera palms and tenera palms.
- dura palms have kernels with a thick shell.
- pisifera palms have kernels with no shell.
- tenera palms have kernels with a thin shell.
In order to get a high palm oil yield, the fruits should possess a lot of pulp, with a shell that is not too thick and a big kernel. Therefore, researchers have developed a cross between dura palm and pisifera palm in order to produce fruits that have lots of pulp, thin shells and large kernels. The cross between these two is known as tenera palm. In order to produce the tenera palm variety, the female flowers from the dura palm are fertilized with the pollen from pisifera palm. The fertilized flowers then turn into fruits of the tenera variety. The tenera palms are most commercially used worldwide due to their high oil yields.