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Publication #ENH-599

Phoenix reclinata: Senegal Date Palm1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2

Introduction

This striking palm creates an interesting silhouette with its multiple, gracefully curved, often reclining, slender brown trunks, and dense crowns of stiff but feathery leaf fronds. Old frond bases are medium brown and remain on the trunk forming a showy trunk which is attractive all year long. A mature specimen of Senegal Date Palm can reach 35 feet in height with a 12 to 20-foot-spread and creates a striking tree which casts a light shade. The palm is elegant when lit from below at night. It is best used as an accent for large landscapes and parks. The somewhat showy flower stalks, often lost within the thick foliage, are followed by one-inch-long, bright orange dates which are incredibly showy. These can be very attractive, particularly when viewed from a balcony above the tree.

Figure 1. 

Phoenix reclinata, large clump growing in Albert Park, central Auckland, New Zealand.


Credit:

Kahuroa


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Phoenix reclinata
Pronunciation: FEE-nicks reck-lih-NAY-tuh
Common name(s): Senegal Date Palm
Family: Arecaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 9B through 11 (Figure 2)
Figure 2. 

Range


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: According to the IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas (IFAS Invasive Plant Working Group 2008), Phoenix reclinata is invasive and not recommended in the central and south zone in Florida (to see if any exceptions for specified and limited use have been approved since publication, check the Conclusions Table at: http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/conclusions.html). It is not considered a problem species and may be recommended in the north zone in Florida (counties listed by zone at: http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/pdfs/assess_counties.pdf)
Uses: specimen; container or planter
Availability: not native to North America

Description

Height: 25 to 35 feet
Spread: 12 to 20 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: palm, upright/erect
Crown density: open
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate (Figure 3)
Leaf type: odd-pinnately compound
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: linear
Leaf venation: parallel
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 12 to 18 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Ripening fruit of Phoenix reclinata. The fruit form in pendent clusters.


Credit:

MmcKnight14, CC BY-SA 3.0


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Flower

Flower color: white/cream/gray
Flower characteristics: showy

Fruit

Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch
Fruit covering: fleshy
Fruit color: orange
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches don't droop; showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: not applicable
Current year twig thickness:
Wood specific gravity: unknown

Culture

Light requirement: full sun, partial sun or partial shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate

Other

Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: sensitive to pests/diseases

Use and Management

The multiple trunks lose older fronds as the palm grows, clearing lower trunks of all foliage. This characteristic makes Senegal Date Palm a wonderful tree for accenting in a bed of groundcover or a grouping of low shrubs. Trunks which bend to the horizontal as the palm ages may need to be supported with a brace or cable to hold them up.

Growing easily in full sun or partial shade, Senegal Date Palm will thrive on any well-drained soil. Plants should receive adequate moisture during periods of drought. This palm is too large for all but the largest residential landscapes. They are very costly to purchase due to the slow growth rate. Large specimens command a high price.

Propagation is by seed or division of the many suckers which appear at the base of old clumps.

Pests

A variety of scales infest this palm.

Diseases

Some diseases of this tree are lethal yellowing disease, leaf spot.

Stressed and damaged trees often are infected with the Ganoderma fungus. A conk is formed at the base of the tree which appears as a varnished shelf or mushroom. Remove the conk and the tree to help control the spread of the disease to other plants. Prevent injury to the trunk and roots, and plant in well-drained soil. Be sure sprinklers do not irrigate the trunk so it remains wet. A wet trunk and wet soil encourage this disease. There is no control for butt rot, only prevention.

Literature Cited

Fox, A.M., D.R. Gordon, J.A. Dusky, L. Tyson, and R.K. Stocker. 2008. IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas: Status Assessment. Cited from the Internet (November 16, 2012), http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/pdfs/status_assessment.pdf

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH-599, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised February 2013. Reviewed June 2016. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.