These feather palms are mostly large trees, though the following list includes two that grow less than 20 ft. tall. Trunks are patterned with bases of old leafstalks. Small, yellowish flowers in large, hanging sprays. On female trees, blossoms are followed by clusters of datesbut only if the tree has been in the ground for at least several years and if a male tree is nearby. Dates of P. dactylifera and P. sylvestris are used commercially; those of other species don't have as much edible flesh. Date palms hybridize freely, so buy these trees from a reliable nursery that knows the seed or plant source. Deer seldom bother date palms.
P. canariensis. CANARY ISLAND DATE PALM. Hardy to 20F; slow to develop new head of foliage after damage from hard frosts. Canary Island native. Big, heavy-trunked palm to 60 ft. tall, with a great many bright green to deep green, gracefully arching fronds that form a crown to 50 ft. wide. Grows slowly until it forms a trunk, then speeds up a little. Young plants do well in pots for many years, looking something like pineapples. Best planted in parks, along wide streets, or in other large spaces; not for small city lots. Takes seacoast conditions.
P. dactylifera. DATE PALM. Leaves killed at 20F, but plants have survived 4F. Native to the Mideast. Classic palm of desert oases. Slender-trunked tree to 80 ft., with a crown 2040 ft. wide; gray-green, waxy leaves have stiff, sharp-pointed leaflets. Sends up suckers from base; its natural habit is a clump of several trunks. Bears the dates you find in markets; principal selection is 'Deglet Noor'. Too large and stiff for most home gardens. Does well at seaside.
P. loureirii (P. humilis). Hardy to 20F. Native from India to China. Resembles a smaller, slimmer, more refined P. canariensis. Slow grower to 1018 ft. tall and wide, with dark green leaves. Thrives in containers.
P. reclinata. SENEGAL DATE PALM. Damaged below 25F. Native to tropical Africa. To 2030 ft. high and wide. Produces offshoots, forming picturesque clumps with several curving trunks; if you want a single-trunked tree, remove offshoots. Fertilize for fast growth. Good seaside plant.
P. roebelenii. PYGMY DATE PALM. Foliage browns at around 26F but recovers rapidly in spring. From Laos. Small, slow-growing, single-trunked palm to 610 ft. high. Fine-textured, curving leaves form a dense crown 68 ft. across. Good in groves or as a potted plant. Full sun or partial shade.
P. rupicola. CLIFF DATE PALM. Hardy to 26F. Native to India. As stately as P. canariensis, but it has a slender trunk and is a much smaller tree, reaching only 25 ft. high, 1520 ft. wide. Lower leaves droop gracefully.
P. sylvestris. SILVER DATE PALM. Hardy to 22F. Native to India. Beautiful single-trunked palm to 30 ft. tall, 2025 ft. wide. Tapering trunk is wide at base, narrow at top. Dense, rounded crown of gray-green leaves. Fruit is used commercially for making date sugar.