Phoenix canariensis

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This Canary Island Date Palm has been featured in many movies and television shows. Los Angeles County Arboretum, CA.
Phoenix (FEE-niks) canariensis
IMG 0735.JPG
More than likely a male, Masonic Temple, New Smyrna Beach, Florida. edric.
Scientific Classification
Genus: Phoenix (FEE-niks)
Species: canariensis
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: solitary
Leaf type: pinnate
Height: 10-20 m (40-70ft)
Trunk diameter: 60-90 cm (2-3ft)
Sun exposure: full
Survivability index
Common names
Canary Island Date Palm (English)
Palmera Canaria (Español).

Habitat and Distribution

Native to the Canary Islands, off the northwestern coast of Africa.


Single-trunked, pinnate palm to 20 m (66 feet) or more tall; exceptionally tall specimens can be up to 40 m (120 feet). The trunk is 60 - 90 cm (2-3ft) in diameter, often with a much wider base. Rounded crown of dark green feather leaves 4-6 m (18 feet) long, with pinnae to 20-40 cm long closely spaced along the rachis. Like all Phoenix, P. canariensis has long, extremely sharp spines at the bases of the leaves, which are formed from modified leaflets. The species is dioecious, with separate male and female trees. The fruit are orange, 2 cm long and 1 cm diameter, with a large seed; the fruit pulp when ripe (solid black) is edible, but usually too thin to be worth eating. They are produced on long, densely branched panicles. Editing by edric.


Within the limits of its hardiness (down to about -10°C) P. canariensis is adapted to more habitats and soils than almost any other palm. This, combined with its relative hardiness to cold, make it one of the most widely-planted palms on Earth. Excellent specimens can be found from London to Sydney, from Honolulu to Pakistan, from Tasmania to Durban, and almost anywhere else with a suitable climate. Which is a wide swath of the world.

Best in Mediterranean climates, like those in Italy, southern California, Chile, etc., P. canriensis will also grow in the tropics. Fine stalwart specimens can even be found in cool (but not cold) maritime climates like Northern Ireland, Tasmania, or San Francisco.

While best in full sun and the usual well-drained loamy soil, P. canariensis can tolerate a wide range of exposures, including deep shade, and a wide range of soil types, including sand and heavy clay. It has a unique ability to tolerate both severe drought and flooding very well, which makes them ideal to plant in housing tracts in which the soil was heavily compacted.

In ideal conditions, seedlings grow pinnate leaves within about a year from sprouting, and increase to full width in about 5 years, at which point they begin to form a trunk. They can then put on about 30 cm (12") trunk height growth a year, though they are usually much slower, particularly when young.

In climates cold enough to freeze the entire crown (such as parts of New Mexico), regrowth is slow and often stunted. In popular use, the English name is often abbreviated to the acronym "CIDP".

Comments and Curiosities

Specimens are sometimes trimmed to remove the lower leaves, this creates a pineapple effect.

"This is the classic avenue palm in Southern California (aside from the Mexican Fan Palm)- there are thousands of them lining the streets all over Los Angeles. It is one of the fastest growing, largest and hardiest palms you can grow. It seems to like Mediterranean climates better than tropical ones- those grown in Florida always look a bit anemic to those in drier climates. Once established it needs no water, and will look good in high heat and freezing cold. It does have a few drawbacks, however. Until the crown grows over your head, or the roof of your home, you will need to contend with long, spiny leaves, the base of which have strong, sharp spines that look like darning needles up to 2 feet long that can easily penetrate the toughest clothing- even leather... so careful when pruning! It also is susceptible to Fusariam Wilt, a fungal disease that is spread by pruning with 'infected' shears/pruners. All those pruning multiple palms are urged to clean the instruments with bleach or something that kills the fungus." (Geoff Stein), edric.


Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos, edric.

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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