Phoenix dactylifera

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Phoenix dactylifera

(Arecaceae)

“Date Palm”. West Asia/North Africa.

The Phoenix genus contains around 17 species native to Asian and African tropical regions. P. dactylifera, the “Date Palm”, is very resistant to coastal conditions. It is characterised by its tall, slender trunk, its blue-green leaves and a rather sparse crown. (In contrast to its relative, P.canariensis, the “Canary Island Palm”  which is stouter and has much denser foliage – although there is thought to be a lot of hybridization between the two).

Eventual height is 20-30m, but it grows by developing a head of leaves, perhaps for 5 or 6 years, before a trunk emerges. Other characteristics include include a pinnate leaf which is made up of folded v-shaped segments, and basal leaflets which are modified as spines. It can sucker from the base and if left will become multi-stemmed in habit. It is dioeceous – male and female forms exist, and dates are usually found on selected female trees grown alongside a few males to ensure fertilisation. Otherwise the date palm is used ornamentally.

The two mature specimens in the photo above are located at the western entrance area to the Park, either side of the statue to Salvador Rueda.

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