Phoenix sylvestris

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Figure 1. P. sylvestris/canariensis hybrid in Naples. Note the swollen base.


Common Names:

Silver Date Palm
Sugar Date Palm

Distribution & Habitat:

Open forest and grassland in India.


A very tall, slender palm with large canopy of long slightly recurving, heavily plumose, glaucouse fronds. Typically has a swollen base, and retains the strap like leaf bases on the trunk.


Sunny, moist, but well drained position. Drought, and frost tolerant when mature, a very fast rewarding grower especially in tropical and sub tropical climates. Highly desirable, attractive as an alternative commercial landscape palm, for a large palm looking light and airy (also an advantage in smaller gardens) at the same time. Very easy to transplant as mature specimens and to maintain in bags. Do to the glaucous nature of the leaves and plumose leaflet arrangement they are also beautiful for landscape lighting arrangements. Thriving and maintaining colour in high humidity high seasonal rainfall in tropical climates, more successfully so than P. canariensis or P. dactylifera which suffer fungal problems. Also suitable in drier climates.

There are quite a few forms of P. sylvestris. Leaf and leaflet shape size vary. Some of the nicest have the characteristic desirable soft silver blue colour, grey or blue green and a fully plumose leaflet arrangement, the leaflets being wide and longish with narrow attachment to the mid rib and a massive full crown of gently recurving leaves. Shiny dark green is not characteristic. Hybridisation is a real problem in some countries so it's worthwhile trying to find pure seed or seed from specimens with the desired traits. Pure P. sylvestris are by far the more characteristic and attractive, but even so these can still vary so selecting the form where it grows wild is still the best way to grow from seed.

Figure 2. Typical P. sylvestris

Contributed by:

Angelo Porcelli (Figure 1)
Miguel Basomba (Figure 2)

External Links:

Kew, PalmWeb, JSTOR, Trebrown

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums, PalmTalk