Date Palm

Phoenix dactylifera
Arecaceae, Palm Family
close up of date clusters
close up of date clusters
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.
Psalm 92:12-15 NIV
close up of date clusters
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”
John 12:13 NIV

Cultural Information

TypeEdible Tree
Height100 feet or more
Soilgood soil drainage is more important than soil quality; sandy soil preferred
Exposurefull sun
Leaveslarge, graceful fronds soar radially from the crown of the tree; evergreen, tough, branch-like with strong central spine and symmetrical, pointed, repeating leaflets about 18 inches long
Flowerssmall, cream-colored, individual cup-like blossoms grow along central stem, appear in spring
Fruitthumb-sized, oblong, stout fruits are borne on female trees, with single pit; green fruits turn bright orangy-yellow to deeper bronze-brown as fruits mature in fall

Planting Tips

  • Zone 9 hardiness; select a sunny, warm exposure away from sprinklers and other water-needy plants
  • date palm maybe propagated by seed or shoot
  • fruits produced on female plants only; best to grow from shoots of another female tree
  • flowers must be pollenated by male trees, usually 1 male to 25 female trees is sufficient
  • fruits can be messy underfoot so avoid planting near walkways
  • water well in first few months, and then never again!
  • ample fruit harvests will take about 6 years from a rooted offshoot tree, at a tree height of roughly 6 feet
  • non-bearing trees are just as victorious in the landscape; plant singly as a focal point or in repetition as a regal, upright horticultural columnade

Garden to Table

  • young palm fronds lend distinct prominence to table arrangements
  • use fresh leaflets from older, larger leaves to wrap vases and bouquet stems
  • leaflets are woven and dried to create placemats, hats, and rope
  • fruits are deliciously rustic and sweet; enjoy fresh or dried
  • dates delight many types of desserts such as cookies, cakes, sorbets, and ice cream treats
  • add chopped, dried dates to muffins, cereal, rice dishes, and energy bars
  • make date paste to use as sweetener in recipes; soak fruits in water and puree in blender or Cuisinart until smooth, spreadable texture results
  • date "honey" or syrups are also available commercially, liquefied dates to pour over ice cream, cereal, pancakes, etc.

Additional Resources

See Blog Posts on Date Palm
Though many leaders in Israel and Judah did not prove to be upright, eventually leading the people to a 70-year exile (Daniel 9:2), the prophet Jeremiah voiced God’s promise to send a righteous king, a Savior (Jeremiah 23:5 – 6). Jesus, when he walked among us, was such a leader, fortified like the palm tree to endure insult as he suffered the cross, conferring on us his righteousness (1 Peter 2:23 – 24)
-from the NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible
close up of date clusters
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”
John 12:13 NIV

Photo Credits

©2009 Ann-Kristin |Flickr Creative Commons Phoenix dactylifera, photographed in Rhodes Island, Greece
©2007 Luigi Strano|Flickr Creative Commons Phoenix dactylifera, photographed in Catania, Sicily, Italy
©2015 Shelley S. Cramm Fresh supermarket ‘Medjool’ dates rest on palm tree fibers from an old tree trunk
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