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Phoenix canariensis is a species in the palm family Arecaceae, native to the Canary Islands. It is a relative of Phoenix dactylifera, the true date palm. It is a large solitary palm, 10-20(-40) m tall. The leaves are pinnate, 4–6 m long, with 80-100 leaflets on each side of the central rachis. The fruit is an oval, yellow to orange drupe 2 cm long and 1 cm diameter and containing a single large seed; the fruit pulp is edible but too thin to be worth eating.

The most used common name in English is “Canary Island date palm”. The common name in Spanish speaking countries and in the Canary Islands is “Palmera Canaria”. It is also widely known as the pineapple palm. It is the natural symbol of the Canary Islands, together with the Serinus canaria (Canary bird).[1]

The palm is easily recognized through its crown of leaves and trunk characteristics. It is not uncommon to see Canary Island date palms pruned and trimmed to enhance the appearance.[2] When pruned, the bottom of the crown, also called the nut, appears to have a pineapple shape.

Cultivation

The Canary Island date palm is very widely planted as an ornamental plant in warm temperate regions of the world, particularly in areas with Mediterranean climates. It can be cultivated where temperatures never fall below -10/-12 °C for extended periods, although it will require some protection if cold periods are longer than normal. It is a slow growing tree, exclusively propagated by seed. It can be grown from Ireland, southern England[3] northernmost coastal Spain and France in the north, to central Chile and Argentina in the south. It is particularly popular in Spain, Portugal, Italy (coastal and southern areas, Sardinia, Sicily), coastal Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, south and western France, warmer parts of the USA (notably California, southern Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Southeast Louisiana, South Texas, Coastal Georgia), Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Uses

In the Canary Islands, the sap of this date palm is used to make palm syrup and the different parts of the palm are used in a number of ways. La Gomera is where most of the sap is produced in the Canary Islands.

Invasiveness

In some mediterranean and subtropical countries, P. canariensis has proven to be an invasive plant. In New Zealand, it has invaded a range of habitats. New Zealand’s Landcare Research has classified the palm as a ‘sleeper weed’ – “a plant that spreads slowly and goes unnoticed until it becomes widespread”. In Auckland, New Zealand, the palm has itself become a host for the naturalised Australian strangler fig, Ficus macrophylla.

Written on February 20th, 2012 , Botany, Forestry Tags:

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