Pheonix canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm)

June 6, 2007

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The Canary Island Date Palm is one of the most widely cultivated ornamental palms in the world. The species has enjoyed a reputation as a hardy tree that will tolerate a wide range of soil types and climactic conditions that has made it highly suitable for the Australian landscape (Jones 1989).
Not self-cleaning, so the old leaves need to be cut off. An architectural tree that also makes a good avenue tree and can help provide a Mediterranean landscape character.

Origin: Canary Islands, off north/eastern Africa

Description: Very large (to about 20m), majestic palm, with a tall, solid trunk, with a broad crown of large, arching, divided feathery leaves with spined petioles held on sturdy dark grey trunk.

Tolerances: Adaptable to a wide range of soil types, grows best in full sun, well drained position. Has moderate to high drought tolerance and tolerance to frost and salt spray. Transplants easily as a mature tree. Although the species is renowned for its hardiness, it like most other plant species will suffer the effects of waterlogged or saline soils. Drought will also affect the well being of this palm species particularly in sandy soils. Zinc and nitrogen deficiencies often found in costal soils will affect the growth and appearance of the Canary Island Date Palm, as will alkaline soils. Seedlings are quite slow, but speed up considerably once they start to trunk
A significant threat to palm species in particular the Canary Island Date Palm is Fusarium wilt, Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. canariensis. Fusarium wilt is a true wilt disease where plant decline and death is as a direct result of the loss of function of the water conducting cells within the plant.

Availability: Usually transplanted as a mature tree. Specialist nurseries or salvaged from older landscapes.

Reference: Jones, D. (1989), Palms in Australia. Reed
Spencer, R. (2005) Horticultural flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 5, Flowering plants: monocotyledons. University of New South Wales Press Ltd.


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60 Responses to “Pheonix canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm)”

  1. David Gardner Says:

    Could someone please let me know long it takes to grow a Pheonix Canariensis Date Palm from seed, and what its rate of growth is once it becomes visible?


  2. Joe Says:

    I’ve got a five year old Canary palm on my melbourne property which was doing great until now. I noticed that the outside leaves are nice and green and the Middle leaves completely dried out. Do you know what the problem might be. Thank you

  3. Ron Daley Says:

    Hi, I have the same problem as Mike (above) Just wondering if I cut off one side of the root ball so it dose’t push over my neighbours garage wall will the tree die or fall over. It’s approx. 10 meters tall. can anyone advise Thanks Ron

  4. James Martens-Mullaly Says:

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for your query. As I only have limited information on the site and the palm in question, my response is general in nature. As monocots, palms have an adventitious root system composed of a mass of fibrous primary (first order) roots that grow independently and periodically from the root initiation zone located at the base of the trunk. Because of this method of root generation, most palms are tolerant of root severance.
    Root severance in cooler climates is best undertaken during late spring to early summer when soil and air temperatures provide a long warm period that promotes root regeneration. In warm regions, timing of root severance is generally not a constraint as climatic conditions are nearly always sufficient to ensure adequate root and shoot growth year round.
    Provided your palm is healthy, growing straight, and has a radially symmetrical root system, and provided you did not cut into the base of the trunk, severance of roots on one side is unlikely to kill the tree or make your palm unstable.
    Hope this helps,

  5. Mike Latchford Says:

    If I sever the roots system on one side of a Canary Island date palm, will this kill the tree or make it unstable or will the roots simply grow back again? I have dug a trench and noted that the roots only go as deep as the “clean” soil and once the roots system hits clay, there were no roots?
    Any advice will be very much appreciated.

  6. wombat Says:


    The spines, which barely get mentioned in the post above, are regularly responsible for serious injuries: 20cm long, sharp, likely to break off in the wound and either poisonous or infested with pathogens from rat feces etc., so that infection or at least severe pain and stiffness is the usual result of even a minor wound.

    The spines take years to break down in mulch – meaning that one Canary Island Date palm is a huge and ongoing source of these horrible spines.

    Majestic they may be – but they’re a pest, they’re weedy and they’re a health hazard. They’re considered an environmental weed in most of South East Australia.

  7. James Martens-Mullaly Says:

    Thanks for your query Lisa.

    If you no longer want your Canary Island Date Palm, removal rather than killing the plant and leaving in situ is generally the safer option. Killing a palm will lead to its structural deterioration; falling fronds or the collapse of the entire head from an established palm can be dangerous. I suggest you contact a local arborist to arrange its removal.

  8. Lisa Says:

    How do I kill/ poison one of these plants quickly?

  9. David Balsamo Says:

    Hello Clare. Solitary palms have only one apical meristem (bud) generally located in the center of the crown immediately below the emerging central leaf spears (young leaves). If this bud is killed or severely damaged, the palm will die. Damage to the bud may not become apparent for up to 18 months following injury.

    Hope this helps


    David Balsamo

  10. Clare Says:


    I’ve successfully had a rant at a neighbor in the process of cutting down a CIDP, the palm still stands.

    Just curious how one would date (no pun intended) the tree. Its about 9m tall and trunk is >1m diameter half way up – very majestic.



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