Selected Trees and Shrubs
Phoenix reclinata Common name: Senegal Date Palm, Wild Date Palm
Plant Family: Belongs to the Arecaceae/Palmae or Palm family, which includes the Medjool Date (Phoenix dactylifera), Coconut Palm (Cocus nucifera) and Talipot Palm (Corypha umbraculifera).
Description: One of the more highly prized ornamental palms, Reclinata is a clumping palm, producing multiple stems from 7.5 to 15 m in height (24-50 ft) and up to 30 cm in width (12 in); leaves in a terminal crown, 2.5 to 4.5 m long (8-15 ft) and 0.75 m wide (29 in), pinnate with leaflets up to 40 cm long (12 in) and 3.5 cm wide (1.4 in), bright to deep green and v-shaped in cross-section; lower pinna reduced to long, sharp spines on petioles; flowers born in axillary inflorescences among the leaves; individual flowers produced on long flower stalks, clustered mostly near apex of peduncle; are unisexual on separate plants, male florets are pale yellow and fall off after blooming, females are small and yellow-green; fruit borne in large, pendant clusters, are small, 1-seeded drupes, oblong-ellipsoid, 23 mm long (0.9 in) and 8 mm wide (0.3 in), going from green to orange to dark brown when ripe; flesh thin but sweet and similar in taste to Medjool dates; in Gardens, a Reclinata clump is located on east side of road to the North Gate mid-way to the gate.
Natural Habitat: Found in a range of habitats, from rain forest clearings and monsoonal forests to rocky mountainsides, from sea level to 3000 m; thrives in moist parts of monsoonal tropical and subtropical climates, especially on riverbanks and seasonal swamps.
Origin and Distribution: The Senegal date is native to the semi-arid regions tropical Africa, Madagascar and the Comoro Islands; grown as ornamental in tropics and subtropics, and even as an indoor potted plant in temperate climes; propagated from seed and sucker.
Uses: Plant most often used as ornamental in landscaping for its graceful, picturesque clumps of curved, multiple trunks; pruned clumps are spectacular when fruiting with their large bunches of small, multicolored dates; in its native habitats, palm heart eaten as vegetable; sap tapped to make wine; leaf fibres used for carpets and brooms; roots contain tannin used to make brown dye; wood light and not particularly useful.
Indigenous Legends and Anecdotes: In S. Africa, special skirts made from the leaves are worn by Xhosa boys when undergoing initiation rites.
Robert A. DeFilipps. Useful Plants of the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1998
Phoenix reclinata. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, July 2012
Phoenix reclinata. Dave’s Garden, El Segundo, CA, July 2012 (davesgarden.com)
Jack Scheper. Phoenix reclinata. Floridata, Tallahassee, Florida, April 2011 (floridata.com)
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