Phoenix sylvestris

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Phoenix (FEH-niks)
sylvestris (sil-VEHS-trihs)
Phoenix sylvestris55.jpg
Photo: Jungle Music Palms &
Scientific Classification
Genus: Phoenix (FEH-niks)
sylvestris (sil-VEHS-trihs)
None set.
Native Continent
Habit: Solitary
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Date-sugar palm, India date palm, India winepalm, Wild date-palm, Toddy palm, Sugar date palm, Silver date palm.

Habitat and Distribution

Bangladesh, China Southeast, India, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the West Himalayas.
Photo: Jungle Music Palms &
Phoenix sylvestris is common, wild or cultivated, in the plains of India and Pakistan. Phoenix sylvestris thrives from the plains to the coast in low-lying wastelands, scrub forest and areas that have been disturbed or are prone to periodic or seasonal inundation with water, causing water-logging. (S.C. Barrow. 1998)/Palmweb.


This palm is native to India and southern portions of Pakistan. In both countries, it occurs in areas where there is sparse vegetation mainly composed of scrub species and along flat lands where monsoons occur. Though slow growing, it can reach heights of up to 50 feet and grows well in areas of the United States where temperatures do not fall below 15°F. Leaves are pinnately compound and blue-green, and they can grow to 10 feet in length. Leaflets can reach approximately 18 inches long and grow opposite to one another on the rachis in such a way that the entire leaf looks flat. The petiole, or stem that attaches the leaf to the trunk, is 3 feet long and armed with spines. Young trunks bear triangular shaped leaf scars (the place where leaves once attached to the trunk) that become more diamond-shaped with age. On older trees, aerial roots tend to be present at the base of the trunk. Yellow inflorescences can reach lengths of 3 feet, are heavily branched, bear small white blossoms, and grow among the leaves. The oblong fruits are 1 inch long and occur in orange clusters, turning dark red to purple when mature. (


Cold Hardiness Zone: 8b. Growth Rate: Slow to moderate. Survival Temperature: 22ºF/-5.5ºC. Salt Tolerance: Moderate to high. Drought Tolerance: High. Soil Requirements: Widely adaptable. Light Requirements: High. Nutritional Requirements: Moderate.

Light Req: Full sun to Partial shade.

Water Req: Moderate. The Sylvester Date Palm can withstand a drought for a short period of time. Grows best in moist but well drained soil.

Comments and Curiosities

Etymology: Phoenix is the Latin term for the Greek word that means "date palm." The species name sylvestris, translates from the Latin term for "of the forest."

Uses: In India, sugar and alcohol are made from wild date palm flowers, and jelly is made from the fruit. (

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by 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.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

S.C. Barrow, A Monograph of Phoenix L. (Palmae: Coryphoideae). 1998. A Monograph of Phoenix L. (Palmae: Coryphoideae). Kew Bulletin, Vol. 53, No. 3 (1998), pp. 513-575.

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

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