An icon of the Côte d’Azur, the Phoenix Canariensis is most commonly used as decorative vegetation or for alignment landscaping. Syrup, known as “palm honey”, is made from its sap. However, in many parts of the world it falls victim to the red palm weevil, which decimates populations.

Identity Card

Common name Canary Island Date Palm, Pineapple Palm
Binominal name Phoenix canariensis Chabaud

Taxonomy

Kingdom Plantae
Family Arecaceae

Detailed Informations

Area of origin Canary Islands

Etymology

Phoenix is the name given to these types of palms since antiquity. Canariensis indicates it is from the Canary Islands.

Description and flowering period

Phoenix canariensis is a palm tree reaching 10 to 20 meters in height. The stipe (trunk-like stem) is solitary, light brown and is covered in the remnants of former leaf-stalks. It can reach 60cm in diameter. The palms are pinnate (leaflets are borne on either side of the central axis) and can reach between 4 and 6 meters in length. The palm-stalk is 1 meter long and is covered in spines. The palm itself is composed of 80 to 100 dark green, long and narrow tough leaflets arranged evenly on the palm. The species is dioecious: it has male plants (which only bear male flowers) and female plants (which bear female flowers and fruits). The inflorescences appear between the palms. They are lengthy panicles bearing numerous small creamy-white flowers. The female flowers, once pollinated, give way to golden-yellow fruits which turn orange once ripe. Those are ovoid berries, 2cm long and 1cm large which contain a single seed. Although the flesh is edible, it is too scarce to be of interest for human consumption; they are however, highly appreciated by birds.

Habitat

It can be planted in any type of soil providing it is well drained. It requires a rather sunny location sheltered from strong winds, cold spots and excessive humidity. It appreciates average temperatures between 16 and 24°C but can tolerate short cold spells down to -10°C (though leaf damage occurs at -6°C). It is tolerant to drought and sea-sprays.

Uses

  • Ornamental.
  • Food & drink: Palm syrup is made from its sap.
  • Miscellaneous: The stipes are used in construction and the palms are used as a roofing material.

Notes

Imported and planted in the city of Nice as early as 1864, the pineapple palm as long become the emblem of the French Riviera. It has however recently been subject to attacks of the palm weevil Rhyncophorus ferrugineus whose larvae feed on the palms' stems, often to the point of causing irreparable damage. Its high adaptability has nevertheless made it one of the most planted palm-trees throughout the world.

Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN

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