Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 224 Phoenix canariensis

Common Names: Canary Island date palm Family: Arecacea (palm Family)

Canary Island date palm


Massive and imposing, the Canary Island date palm is the center of attention wherever it is planted. Growing up to 60' tall, the thick, hulking trunk is covered with interesting diamond designs that mark the point of attachment of the leaves. The massive trunk supports a huge crown of over 50 huge arching pinnate leaves that may reach 18' long. These leaves are deep green shading to a yellow stem where the leaflets are replaced by vicious spines.

In areas of high rainfall, like Florida, these palms are often seen with ferns growing from among the old leaf stems. Decomposing leaf litter and other fibrous matter collect there creating an absorbent compost that sword ferns love, forming a hanging garden just below the palm's canopy.

The orange dates are formed on drooping, highly branched inflorescences and are very decorative. They are edible but not very tasty.


Phoenix canariensis is native to the Canary Islands which are located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of northeast Africa. These stately palms are popular landscape items in near frost-free climates around the world. They are grown throughout Florida and all along the Gulf of Mexico coastline. They are planted in warm areas of the western U.S. including Arizona, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Widely used on the French Riviera, this palm provides a distinctive look to the Mediterranean resorts.


This palm is very slow growing when young. Once the trunk reaches it's full diameter the growth rate increases. Fertilize in spring and summer. It is tolerant of most well drained soils. Keep lawn grasses and mulch away from trunk. Use light, fast draining soil mix when growing in containers. Young plants are very susceptible to leaf spot and other fungus infections when grown in humid climates. I have success treating this condition with Daconil fungicide spray (follow instructions on container). Light: Likes a bright, sunny situation. Moisture: Adult specimens are drought resistant. Water young plants for healthy look and fastest growth. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 11. Frost tolerant. Can survive 28 F without cold damage. Propagation: By seeds.


This is NOT a good palm tree for residences unless you have a really BIG yard - or a Mediterranean style mansion (which they decorate very nicely!) The huge bulk of the Canary Island palm dwarfs most houses. This palm is best used along boulevards, on campuses and in parks and grouped in trios to form focal points in cityscapes. I particularly like the look of a trio of these palms of different heights, with their trunks floodlit at night - very dramatic!

Canary Island date palm

Small specimens make great container plants - they look especially nice in large terra cotta pots. In colder regions they can be over-wintered indoors in a cool bright location.


If you want to make a dramatic statement use this huge imposing palm wherever there is space to accommodate it. Small specimens are inexpensive and readily available and look great in pots on the patio, near the pool, or in pairs flanking entryways.


Don't place young palms too close to walkways where their sharp leaf spines might injure passersby.

Jack Scheper05/24/98, updated: 05/30/99

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Phoenix species profiled on Floridata:

Phoenix canariensis

( Canary Island date palm )

Phoenix dactylifera

( date palm )

Phoenix reclinata

( Senegal date palm )

Phoenix roebelenii

( miniature date palm, pygmy date palm )

Phoenix rupicola

( cliff date, wild date palm, Indian date palm )

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