Phoenix roebelinii

Common name

pygmy date palm, dwarf date palm

Description

Stems: Solitary, the smallest of the Phoenix palms, erect to 3 m tall and 8 cm in diameter near the base where spirals of fallen, woody leaf bases mark the stem; bulging at the top of the stem with old, triangular leaf bases and matted fibers to 20 cm in diameter. Wild individuals are sometimes clustering, but those in cultivation are almost exclusively solitary. Leaves: Pinnate, induplicate, 2-3 m long, with a graceful, arching rachis which ends in a single leaflet; many narrow, pendant, deep green leaflets with white scurf on the leaflets, arranged in a single plane and evenly spaced; the lowermost leaflets (along the short petiole) are modified into sharp, thin spines; and no crown shaft is formed. Flowers and fruit: Inflorescences to 75 cm long, and branched to one order. Cream-colored staminate and pistillate flowers are produced on different plants. Fruits are up to 1-2 cm long, ovoid, and black when ripe.

Diagnostic features

Field: Solitary, dwarf palm with pinnate, induplicate leaves 2-3 m long, with a graceful, arching rachis which ends in a single leaflet; many narrow, pendant, deep green leaflets with white scurf, arranged in a single plane; the lowermost leaflets (along the short petiole) are modified into sharp, thin spines.

May be confused with

Other Phoenix species, if only a leaf or a few leaflets are available, but the size of the palm and the white scurf on the leaflets are distinctive

Distribution

Native to Southeast Asia, found along rivers

Additional comments

Because Phoenix species can hybridize easily and produce fertile crosses, determining the species within this genus might not be possible. P. roebelinii is a common indoor palm.

Scientific name

Phoenix roebelenii O'Brien

Family

Arecaceae/Palmae

Last Updated May 2014

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