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Phoenix dactylifera (photo courtesy of Gilles Delacroix/Garden World Images)
Phoenix dactylifera (photo courtesy of Gilles Delacroix/Garden World Images)

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Zone
Zones 8, 9, 11-24, H1, H2
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Phoenix dactylifera

Date Palm

Evergreen, Palms and cycads, Trees

PHOENIX

These feather palms are mostly large trees, though the following list includes one dwarf. Trunks are patterned with bases of old leaf stalks. Small yellowish flowers appear in large, hanging sprays. On female trees, blossoms are followed by clusters of dates—but only if the tree has been in the ground for at least several years and if a male tree is nearby. 

Dates of P. dactylifera and P. sylvestris are the ones found in produce markets; those of other species don’t have as much edible flesh. Date palms hybridize freely, so buy these trees from a reliable nursery that knows the seed or plant source.

Phoenix dactylifera

Leaves are killed at 20°F/–7°C, but plants have survived 4°F/–16°C. Native to the Mideast. Classic palm of desert oases. Slender-trunked tree to 80 ft., with a crown 20–40 ft. wide; gray-green, waxy leaves have stiff, sharp-pointed leaflets. Sends up suckers from the base; natural habit is a clump of several trunks. Bears the dates of commerce; the principal variety is ‘Deglet Noor’. Too large and stiff for most home gardens. Does well at the seaside and in the desert.

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