There are two well known species of palm oil, the better known one is the one originating from Guinea, Africa and was first illustrated by Nicholaas Jacquin in 1763, hence its name, Elaeis Guinnesis Jacq..
The fruit is reddish, about the size of a large plum and grows in large bunches. A bunch of fruits can weight between 10 to 40 kilograms each. Each fruit contains a single seed (the palm kernel). Oil is extracted from both the pulp of the fruit (becoming palm oil) and the kernel (palm kernel oil).
Palm oil itself is reddish and contains a high amount of carotenoids.
Palm oil is used as cooking oil, to make margerine and is a component of some processed foods. The oil is high in Olefins, a potentially valuable chemical group that can be processed into many non-food products as well.
The oil palm originated in West Africa but has since been planted succesfully in tropical regions within 20 degrees of the equator. The world's largest producer and exporter of palm oil today is Malaysia, producing about 50% of the world's supply of palm oil.
Indonesia is the second largest world producer of palm oil producing approx 30% of world palm oil volume.
Both nations are expanding the palm oil capacity and the market continues to grow.