Date Palms-Phoenix Canariensis, P. Roebelenii. (Plant Palette)

By Pherson, Cathy Boething | Landscape & Irrigation, August 2002 | Go to article overview

Date Palms-Phoenix Canariensis, P. Roebelenii. (Plant Palette)


Pherson, Cathy Boething, Landscape & Irrigation


As the dog days of summer are upon us, minds wander to gentle tropical isles where palm trees sway in the breeze. Creating your own tropical effect in many climates is made easy by including either the statuesque Canary Island palm, Phoenix canariensis, or the lovely little pygmy date palm, Phoenix. roebelenii.

Date palms were the very source of life in ancient desert communities where the fruit was propagated for use as food, shelter, sugar, oil and other purposes too numerous to list here. Today, the date palms' beauty is its greatest commodity, although some species provide fruit on established female trees when a male specimen is nearby.

Both species have graceful feathery fronds that appear soft and welcoming but are sharp as the dickens. Sun-worshipers, they savor heat and light. They also appreciate a good drink. These Phoenix varieties have very separate applications, however. While a Phoenix canariensis specimen may top 60 feet, the diminutive Phoenix roebelenli won't exceed 10. Closer examination of both varieties makes for interesting reading.

A grand impression can be instantly achieved by the inclusion of Phoenix canariensis in a landscape. Towering in excess of 60 feet with a crown almost as wide and a trunk that can balloon to an astonishing three feet in diameter, Canary Island palms appear at once imposing and graceful. While its vastness requires that appropriate settings are limited to parks, promenades, wide medians and other spacious locales, its delicate fronds and sturdy trunk are splendid foils to the otherwise bulky dimensions and temper its imposing nature. Marvelously unique scars appear on the trunk as old fronds are eventually shed. Slow to mature, young specimens are wonderful in containers for many years. Phoenix canariensis is effective in Western Garden zones 9, 12-24, H1 and H2. …

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