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PHOENIX dactylifera

Image of Phoenix dactylifera

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Arecaceae

Botanical Name

PHOENIX dactylifera

Plant Common Name

Date Palm

General Description

A tall palm with an upright feather-duster crown of long gray-green fronds, the date palm produces large pendent clusters of the sweet edible dates of renown. An ancient foodsource integral to the cultures of the drier regions of Africa and Asia for 5000 years, this palm apparently originated in northern Africa and the Middle East. It is found only in cultivation, although several wild date palm species are known. Borne in an arching clump at the apex of the trunk, the fronds have many slender leaflets with the lowest ones reduced to large, nasty spines. The canopy of this species is sparser and more upright than that of other date palms. Mature specimens often send up additional trunks from their base.

With the heat of late spring, branching stems bearing hundreds of tiny white flowers droop from the leaf crowns. Each tree is dioecious, producing only male or female flowers. Female trees bear oval single-seeded fruits that are golden yellow or reddish brown when ripe. The flesh that surrounds the hard seed is sweet and juicy.

Grow date palm in full sun in nearly any well-drained soil, including those that are quite alkaline. Although tolerating drought and salt, the plant needs water to thrive and should not be treated like a desert cactus. It is more cold hardy in porous relatively dry soil. Fruit quantity and quality is best in regions that do not have a wet, humid summer. Use date palm as an upright accent by streets or large buildings, or more dramatically in clustered groupings of varying heights.

Hundreds of date palm cultivars are known, selected for the tastebuds, climate and soils of the regions in which they are cultivated. Cultivar 'Deglet Noor' is the most commonly used in commercial date production while 'Medjool' and 'Zahedii' are widely grown in relatively moist climes.

Date palm is considered an invasive weed in several areas including portions of Western Australia and Fiji.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Palm or Cycad

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    50'-75' / 15.2m - 22.9m

  • Width

    20'-35' / 6.1m - 10.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Northern Africa, Western Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Orange Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Blue Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Blue Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Gray Green, Silver

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Edible, Feature Plant, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Street Trees, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes