Skip to main content
This genus is accepted, and its native range is Africa, Kriti to W. & Central Malesia.
Phoenix dactylifera

[PW]
Morphology
Central vascular bundles of the petioles with a single phloem strand (Parthasarathy 1968). Leaf (Tomlinson 1961), roots (Seubert 1997), floral (Uhl and Moore 1971, 1977a, DeMason et al. 1982), axillary bud, inflorescence, offshoot (Hilgeman 1954), seed (Werker 1997).
General Description
Dwarf or creeping to large, solitary or clustered, armed, pleonanthic, dioecious palms. Stem, when developed, often clothed with spirally arranged leaf bases. Leaves induplicate, pinnate, usually marcescent; sheath forming a fibrous network; petiole very short to well developed, adaxially channelled to flattened or ridged, abaxially rounded; rachis elongate, tapering, adaxially rounded or flat to angled, abaxially rounded to flat, usually terminating in a leaflet; leaflets single-fold, acute, regularly arranged or variously grouped, the proximal few modified as spines (acanthophylls), parallel-veined, midrib usually evident abaxially, often bearing scales, emergent leaves frequently with brown floccose indumentum and/or wax, transverse veinlets obscure. Inflorescences interfoliar, branching to 1 order, the staminate and pistillate superficially similar; peduncle flattened, short to elongate, in the pistillate frequently elongating after fertilization, bearing an often caducous, sometimes bivalved, 2-keeled, glabrous or floccose-hairy prophyll; other bracts inconspicuous; rachis flattened, usually shorter than the peduncle; rachillae unbranched, numerous, often in groups in a spiral along the rachis, somewhat adnate above small triangular bracts, the rachillae bearing spirally arranged, low triangular bracts, each subtending a solitary flower. Staminate flowers with 3 sepals connate in a low cupule; petals 3, ± valvate, acute or rounded, much exceeding the calyx; stamens usually 6 (rarely 3 or 9), filaments short, erect, the anthers linear, latrorse; pistillode absent, or of 3 abortive carpels, or a minute trifid vestige. Pollen ellipsoidal, bi-symmetric or very slightly asymmetric; aperture a distal sulcus; ectexine tectate, coarsely perforate, finely reticulate, foveolate, or perforate-rugulate; aperture margin slightly finer, psilate or scabrate; infratectum columellate; longest axis 17–30 µm [11/13]. Pistillate flowers globose; sepals connate in a 3-lobed cupule; petals imbricate, strongly-nerved, about twice as long as the calyx or more; staminodes usually 6, scale-like or connate in a low cupule; carpels 3, distinct, follicular, ± ovoid, narrowed into a short, recurved, exserted stigma, ovule attached adaxially at the base, anatropous. Fruit usually developing from 1 carpel, ovoid to oblong with apical stigmatic remains; epicarp smooth, mesocarp fleshy, endocarp membranous. Seed elongate, terete or plano-convex, and deeply grooved with intruded seed coat below the elongate raphe, hilum basal, rounded, endosperm homogeneous or rarely ruminate (Phoenix anadamanensis); embryo lateral or subbasal. Germination remote-tubular; eophyll undivided, narrowly lanceolate. Cytology: 2n = 32, 36.
Distribution
14 species ranging from the Atlantic islands through Africa, Crete, the Middle East and India to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Sumatra and Malaya. Widely cultivated as ornamentals, one species, Phoenix dactylifera, the date palm, is a major economic plant, now widespread in semi-arid areas as a fruit tree.
Diagnostic
The Date Palms. Solitary or clustering dioecious pinnate-leaved palms of the Old World, usually in arid or semi-arid areas, sometimes in mangrove or monsoon forest, instantly recognisable by the induplicate leaflets with spine-like tips, and the acanthophylls at the leaf base; inflorescence with a single large bract.
Vernacular
Variously designated as date palms, as wild date (Phoenix sylvestris), roebelin or miniature date (P. roebelenii).
Biology
Most species are plants of semi-arid regions but grow near water courses, oases, or underground water sources; a few species are found in tropical monsoonal areas. Phoenix paludosa occurs in the Asian perhumid regions, where it is confined to the landward fringe of mangrove forest. Phoenix roebelenii grows as a rheophyte on the banks of the Mekong and some of its tributaries.

[FTEA]

Palmae, John Dransfield. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1994

Morphology General Habit
Solitary or clustering, acaulescent, shrubby or erect, pleonanthic dioecious palms
Morphology Trunk
Trunk usually covered in leaf-sheath bases when young, later smooth
Morphology Leaves
Leaves induplicately pinnate; leaf-sheath fibrous; leaflets numerous, single-fold, usually sharply pointed, the proximal few-many small, modified as sharp acanthophylls; the distal held in one or several planes, the surfaces frequently waxy
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences interfoliar, branching to 1 order; peduncle short or elongating after anthesis, bearing a 2-keeled prophyll enclosing the inflorescence in bud; peduncular bracts absent; rachillae often arranged spirally or in partial spirals, each subtended by a small bract
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers borne singly in a spiral along the rachilla, each subtended by an inconspicuous bract Female flower ± globular; calyx cup-shaped, with 3 short triangular lobes; corolla with 3, free, imbricate, usually rounded petals; staminodes 6, minute, sometimes fused to form a low cup; carpels 3, free, somewhat elongate, with short recurved fleshy stigmas; ovule anatropous, basally attached, usually one carpel only developing to fruit Male flower often asymmetrical; calyx cup-shaped, with 3 short triangular lobes; corolla briefly tubular with 3 lobes much exceeding the calyx, ± valvate; stamens (3–)6(–9), epipetalous, with short filaments and elongate anthers; pistillode absent, or consisting of 3 minute carpel vestiges
sex Male
Male flower often asymmetrical; calyx cup-shaped, with 3 short triangular lobes; corolla briefly tubular with 3 lobes much exceeding the calyx, ± valvate; stamens (3–)6(–9), epipetalous, with short filaments and elongate anthers; pistillode absent, or consisting of 3 minute carpel vestiges
sex Female
Female flower ± globular; calyx cup-shaped, with 3 short triangular lobes; corolla with 3, free, imbricate, usually rounded petals; staminodes 6, minute, sometimes fused to form a low cup; carpels 3, free, somewhat elongate, with short recurved fleshy stigmas; ovule anatropous, basally attached, usually one carpel only developing to fruit
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit with smooth epicarp, sometimes waxy; mesocarp fleshy; endocarp consisting of a thin membrane
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Germination remote-tubular; eophyll simple, strap-like, plicate. Seed 1, basally attached, deeply grooved longitudinally; endosperm homogenous; embryo lateral or basal

[FSOM]

M. Thulin et al. Flora of Somalia, Vol. 1-4 [updated 2008] https://plants.jstor.org/collection/FLOS

Morphology General Habit
Palms solitary or clustered, dioecious
Morphology Leaves
Leaves pinnate; petiole armed with narrow spines (modified leaflets); blade divided into numerous single-fold induplicate leaflets
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences branched to 1 order; flowers borne singly in a spiral along the axis, each subtended by a small bract
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Male flowers with united tepals in 2 whorls Female flowers with 3 outer tepals united into a cup, 3 inner tepals free, imbricate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens usually 6, inserted on the inner tepals
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Pistillodes
Pistillode absent or rudimentary
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Staminodes
Staminodes 6, minute
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Carpels
Carpels 3, free, with short recurved fleshy stigmas, usually only one carpel developing to fruit
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruits with epicarp smooth, mesocarp fleshy, endocarp thin, membranous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seed 1, deeply grooved longitudinally.
Distribution
Some 13-15 species in the Old World tropics and subtropics.

[PW]
Use
The genus is immensely important from an economic point of view. It includes not only the date palm, the major crop of several Middle Eastern countries and of lesser importance elsewhere, but also other species that are widely used as sources of fibre for weaving, starch, sugar, and a multiplicity of purposes such as thatch and fuel. Many species are widely grown as ornamentals. Phoenix roebelenii is commercially important as a pot plant. Species are known to hybridise freely. For references on uses, see Johnson (1983a, 1984). For a summary of uses, see Johnson (1985).

Native to:

Andaman Is., Angola, Assam, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canary Is., Cape Provinces, Cape Verde, Caprivi Strip, Central African Repu, China South-Central, China Southeast, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, East Aegean Is., East Himalaya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf States, Hainan, India, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Kriti, KwaZulu-Natal, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaya, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicobar Is., Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sumatera, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, Uganda, Vietnam, West Himalaya, Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Introduced into:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Bermuda, Bolivia, California, Cayman Is., Chad, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Florida, Greece, Gulf of Guinea Is., Italy, Leeward Is., Libya, Madeira, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico Northwest, Morocco, Mozambique Channel I, New Caledonia, New South Wales, New Zealand North, Norfolk Is., Northern Territory, Puerto Rico, Queensland, Réunion, Sicilia, Sinai, Socotra, South Australia, Spain, Trinidad-Tobago, Tunisia, Victoria, Western Australia, Western Sahara

Phoenix L. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Dec 19, 2006 Kudrjavceva, E. [716], Vietnam K000462521
Dec 19, 2006 Kudrjavceva, E. [1009], Vietnam K000462523
Dec 19, 2006 Kudrjavceva, E. [148], Vietnam K000462513
Milne-Redhead, E. [4091], Zambia 35187.000
Barrow, S. [39], Turkey 65056.000
Gibbons, M. [s.n.10.95], India K000525859
Hepper [6060], Yemen K000208718
Hepper [5725], Yemen K000208717
Boydak [s.n.], Turkey K000208721
Barrow, S. [39], Turkey K000208719
s.coll. [Cat. no. s.n.] K001132594
Barrow, S. [40], Turkey K000208720

First published in Sp. Pl.: 1188 (1753)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. & Dransfield, J. (2005). World Checklist of Palms: 1-223. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Literature

Palmweb - Palms of the World Online

  • J. Dransfield & N. Uhl & C. Asmussen & W.J. Baker & M. Harley & C. Lewis, Genera Palmarum. The evolution and classification of palms. 2008

Flora of West Tropical Africa

  • F.T.A. 8: 102.
  • Sp. Pl. 1188 (1753)

Flora of Somalia

  • Flora Somalia, Vol 4, (1995) Author: by M. Thulin [updated by M. Thulin 2008]

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Becc. in Malesia 3: 345–416 (1890)
  • L., Gen. Pl., ed. 5: 496 (1754)
  • Sp. Pl.: 1188 (1753)

Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

Flora of Somalia
Flora of Somalia
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet http://www.palmweb.org. Accessed on 21/04/2013
Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0