Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Phoenix dactylifera L.

Frost tender tall palm with a columnar trunk, leaves to 6m long, composed of many linear leaflets, and long-stalked panicles, to 2m long, of bowl-shaped, cream flowers in spring and summer, followed by the characteristic, edible fruits.  To 30m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘The Date is one of the most useful plants to mankind in the warm arid regions of Africa and Asia, as it will thrive in localities where no other serviceable tree can grow.  It is the only useful tree found upon the margins of the great African and other deserts, and it occupies large tracts of country exclusively.  This plant also occupies the oasis or fertile spots in these deserts, and affords the only vegetation that is to be found in many of those localities.  It also furnishes the only food plant that is to be met with in these arid regions.  Dates are the fruit of a Palm known to botanists as Phoenix dactylifera which is indigenous to North Africa, Arabia, Egypt, Persia, Palestine and other parts of Asia.  It attains a height of from sixty to eighty feet, and exceptionally over one hundred.  There are no branches, and the stems are surmounted with a crown of leaves.  The Date Palm is dioecious, which means that there are both male and female plants, the flowers of the former being somewhat the larger.  The flower branches or spikes spring from the base of the leaves and are at first enclosed in sheaths or spathes.  A full-grown tree bears annually from six to ten bunches of fruit, each weighing from twelve to twenty pounds.  Sometimes a single bunch will consist of over two hundred Dates, and yields up to four hundred weight are recorded, from a single tree.  The Date Palrn attains a great age, and it is said that plantations two hundred years old have yielded heavy crops.’  [Crichton - The Australasian Fruit Culturist p.292/1893].

Introduced to Britain in 1597.  [PD].

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues [T.754/1850].  Two mature specimens survive in the gardens.


Published Mar 06, 2009 - 02:49 PM | Last updated Jul 14, 2010 - 02:38 PM

Family Arecaceae
Region of origin

North Africa and Asia

Common Name

Date palm

Name in the Camden Park Record

Phoenix dactylifera

Confidence level high