The True Date Palm Tree, scientific name Phoenix dactylifera, is a close relative to Canary Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis) and Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii). This is a cold hard palm that can tolerate cold temperatures down to 15F and will grow in the zone 8. This palm tree can also withstand large temperature fluctuations. Phoenix dactylifera is very easy to grow and maintain. This palm can be grown in states like Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon and Texas.
True Date Palm Tree Profile
Scientific name: Phoenix dactylifera
Common names: The True Date Palm is also known as Date Palm, True Date, Medjool Palm, Medjool Date Palm, Phoenix Medjool Palm, Jewel Palm, Medjewel Palm, and Medjool Dates.
Origin: It is native to North Africa and India.
Appearance: It has a single broad, gray trunk covered with ornamental diamond-shaped pattern of leaf scars. Trunk is about 16 inches in diameter. The date palm trunk is vertical, cylindrical and columnar of the same girth all the way up. The trunk is covered for several years with the bases of the old dry fronds, making it rough, but with age the trunk becomes smoother with visible cicatrices of these bases.
About 100-120 large fronds form a thick canopy up to 30 ft wide. Leaves are greenish or bluish gray, pinnate, feather-like, with about 150 pointed, 1-2 ft long leaflets arranged in V-shape ranks that run the length of the petiole. Leaflets are modified near the base into sharp 3-4 in thorns. It requires some maintenance since old frond bases persist on the trunk if not removed.
Flowers/Fruits: The True Date Palm produces white or yellow flowers that grow in clusters supported by 4ft long inflorescence. True Date Palm is dioecious, male and female flowers are born on separate plants. Male flowers are white and female flowers are cream and yellow. Only female plants produce dates and only if a male tree is nearby.
Flowers are followed by edible fruit, called ‘dates’ that grow in clusters among the leaves. The True Date Palms will fruit at approximately 8 years of age. Green dates turn orange red or dark-brown, depending on variety, as they ripe. Dates are oval-cylindrical, 1.5 – 3 inches 3–7 cm long, and 0.5 – 1 inches in diameter with a single seed inside, that is 0.5 inches long.
Dates have high nutritional value. They are important source of food for people in the Asia, Africa, South America, and Middle East. Sometimes dates are used to produce ice-creams, syrups, alcohol drinks, syrups, vinegars and alcohol drinks. Seeds are used to make soaps and cosmetics.
Growth Rate: Moderate. Phoenix dactylifera can grow up to 40 – 50 ft with a spread up to 10-15 ft wide.
Outdoor/Indoor Use: Both.
Cold Tolerance: Phoenix dactylifera is a cold hardy palm that can tolerate cold down to 15F. It is great for growing in the USDA Zones 8b (15 to 20 F) to 11 (above 40 F).
There is a great book, written by David A. Francko that I really like, it’s called “Palms Won’t Grow Here and Other Myths: Warm-Climate Plants for Cooler Areas”. It goes into the details on how you can grow cold hardy palms in zones 7, 6 and even 5. This is the perfect foundation book for the gardener who would like to see a banana next to his cherry tree and a palm between his maples. It got great reviews and 5 out of 5 stars rating on Amazon.
Light Req: Full sun to Partial shade.
Water Req: Moderate. The Date Palm grows best in moist well drained soil but can also tolerate drought for short period of time.
Maintenance: Easy. To prevent nutritional deficiency, apply good quality palm fertilizer that has continuous release formula twice a year during growing season.
Propagation: Propagated by seeds.
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