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The horticultural history of the Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis)

Authors:
Florida International University, Department of Biological Sciences, 11200 SW 8 Street, Miami, FL 33199,
USA
SCOTT ZONA
THE HORTICULTURAL HISTORY OF THE CANARY
ISLAND DATE PALM (PHOENIX CANARIENSIS)
In the mid- to late nineteenth century, the Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis)
became one of the most widely cultivated ornamental palms in the world. In Southern
Europe it became a symbol of wealth, privilege and sunny holidays, especially along the
Côte d’Azur in France. In the United States, in Florida and California, it was a popular
landscape palm for both small homes and large estates, a symbol of gracious living at
whatever economic stratum. It has a recognizable habit and was often photographed, so
the rise in popularity of this palm can be traced through written records, postcards and
historic photographs.
INTRODUCTION
Of all the endemic plants of the Spanish Canary Islands, Phoenix canariensis Chabaud
(Arecaceae) is surely the most widely cultivated outside its island home (Figure 1). The
dragon tree (Dracaena draco) may be more emblematic of the islands, but its cultivation
is generally confined to botanical gardens and specialist collections. In contrast, P.
canariensis is cultivated by the tens of thousands in warm temperate areas around the
world. It is a magnificent palm, well fitted to lining avenues, flanking entrance ways, and
serving as a focal point in formal landscapes. Its size and symmetry are well suited to
large, expansive landscapes and gardens, but its ease of propagation and growth make it
accessible even to gardeners of modest means.
DISCOVERY
The Canary Islands have been known to European and African mariners since at least
the first century when Juba II, King of Mauretania (c.25 BC–AD c.23), travelled to the
islands.1 Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) related Juba’s account of the islands and credited
Juba II as their discoverer, a distinction which may be an overstatement. Nevertheless,
Juba II was surely the first scholar to write about the islands and bring them, and their
remarkable flora, to the attention of the Roman scholars. He described the Canary Islands
as abounding in ‘palm-groves full of dates … in addition to this there is a large supply of
honey’.2 At that time, and for many centuries thereafter, the palms of the Canary Islands
were not distinguished from the true date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.), which was
common and well known in the Mediterranean region. Juba’s notice of ‘honey’ may be
the earliest mention of the practice of extracting sugary sap (known locally as guarapo),
which, even today, is fermented into alcohol or boiled down to make ‘honey’ (or syrup).3
Although the difference between the fruits of the Canary Island date palm and those of
the true date palm were surely obvious during the subsequent colonization of the Canary
Zona, S. 2008. The horticultural history of the
Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis).
Garden History 36: 301 -308.
302 GARDEN HISTORY 36 : 2
Islands, the former species was not given any taxonomic status until Philip Barker-Webb
and Sabin Berthelot named it Phoenix dactylifera var. jubae, in honour of Juba II. That
name, however appropriate, was replaced by P. canariensis, the name by which the palm
was known to European horticulturists, when it was recognized as a distinct species, not
just a variety of P. dactylifera.4 J. Benjamin Chabaud described and illustrated Phoenix
canariensis hort. ex Chabaud in 1882 from plants growing in Hyères, France, grown from
seeds sent from Oratava, Canary Islands. Phoenix dactylifera var. jubae was published
in 1847, but it was not given specific status until H. Christ elevated it to species rank
as P. jubae (Webb & Berthel.) Webb ex H. Christ. The law of nomenclatural priority,
which states that the oldest properly published name is the one that must be used, applies
only within a rank, so P. canariensis (1882) has priority over P. jubae (1885). Phoenix
canariensis is the correct name for the indigenous date palm of the Canary Islands.5
INTRODUCTION T O HORTICULTURE
Records of the introduction of Phoenix canariensis into the gardens of the world are
poor. The difficulty in tracing its introduction to cultivation arises from the fact that early
botanists and horticulturists did not distinguish the Canary Island date palm from the true
date palm (P. dactylifera). Hence, William Aiton did not list P. canariensis in his catalogue
of the plants at the Royal Botanic Garden in Kew, nor was the species mentioned in John
Claudius Loudon’s encyclopaedic listings of plants cultivated in England, although P.
dactylifera and other species were mentioned in every list. In reviewing historical plant
lists, only when we have evidence that the listed palm came from the Canary Islands can
we be reasonably sure that it is P. canariensis.6
In addition to confusion with Phoenix dactylifera, there was confusion with other
species. Chabaud noted that a nursery in Gand, Belgium, sold P. canariensis under the
name P. reclinata, the Senegal date palm, a distinctive multi-stemmed species from Africa.
The material sold by the Belgian nursery originated from the Royal Botanic Gardens,
Kew. Chabaud quoted a letter from Joseph Dalton Hooker, dated 11 December 1882,
in which Hooker thanked Chabaud for a reprint of his publication of P. canariensis and
said ‘Your Phoenix canariensis looks like our Phoenix reclinata!’7 George Nicholson, in
a late nineteenth-century dictionary of gardening, listed Phoenix tenuis Verschaff., but
in a supplement he said that the correct name for P. tenuis was P. canariensis.8 Thus,
Figure 1. Phoenix canariensis,
the Canary Island Date
Palm, cultivated at Fairchild
Tropical Botanic Garden
in Miami, Florida.
Photo: author
303
HORTICULTURAL HISTORY OF THE CANARY ISLAND DATE PAL M
the confusion of names suggests that P. canariensis was in cultivation in England and
elsewhere well before it was known by its current name.
The earliest documented introduction of the Canary Island date palm into mainland
European gardens was by Norwegian botanist Christen Smith (1785–1816). Smith
botanized extensively in the Canary Islands in the early nineteenth century. During a stay
in Tenerife in 1815, in the autumn when few other wild plants were blooming, Smith
collected seeds for the botanical garden in Oslo, whose collection he was responsible for
developing. At least one P. canariensis palm grew from those seeds and survived in the
glasshouse in Oslo until 2000. The tree became known as Christen Smith’s palm.9 The
ornamental value of P. canariensis was recognized and seeds of the palm were brought
from the Canary Islands to European gardens. The palm was introduced into Nice, at
the garden of Viscount Joseph de Vigier (1821–1894) in 1866, from plants purchased
from Verschaffelt’s Nursery in Ghent, Belgium.10 Emile Sauvaigo fixed the date at 1864.11
Chabaud claimed the year was 1864 and the place of origin was the J. J. Linden Nursery.12
Another source put the date of introduction at 1868.13 Nice was, even then, famous for
its palm-lined promenades and picturesque vistas and Viscount Vigier’s estate, known as
the Venetian Palace, was an exact reproduction of the Moncenigo Palace at Venice. Vigier
was an officer in charge of horses for Napoleon III and his wife was the celebrated opera
star Sophie Cruvelli (née Jeanne Sophie Charlotte Cruwell, 1826–1907).14 Soon after
Viscount Vigier’s introduction of P. canariensis to Nice, the palm was widely planted
along the Mediterranean coast, where it still enjoys tremendous popularity.15
A photograph of the species growing in the Polytechnic School in Lisbon, where it
was introduced before 1881, was published by Godefroy-Lebuef and is the first published
Figure 2. Phoenix canariensis at Tresco
Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly,
Britain. Photo: Ross P. Bayton
304 GARDEN HISTORY 36 : 2
photograph of the species.16 P. canariensis is listed in the 1888 catalogue of plants in
Baron Ricasoli’s garden in Porto Ercole, Italy.17 Tresco Abbey Gardens on the Isles of
Scilly acquired P. canariensis in 1894. This species is now very prolific throughout the
garden (Figure 2) and very much a signature plant.18 By the end of the nineteenth century
P. canariensis was well established in European horticulture and landscapes (Figure 3).
PHOENIX CANARIENSIS I N THE AMERICAS
Unlike Phoenix dactylifera, which Spanish conquistadors brought to the Caribbean no
later than 1513,19 P. canariensis arrived in the Americas much later. In the eighteenth
century P. canariensis was regarded as an inferior form of P. dactylifera. Early Spanish
colonists were more concerned with growing food crops than they were creating palm-
lined avenues and stately gardens; hence, they had no reason to import a palm such as
P. canariensis, which produced no edible fruits. One account, which is widely repeated
in the popular media, claims that the Franciscan priest and founder of the California
mission system, Father Junípero Serra (1713–84), brought P. canariensis to Mexico
and California.20 He is even purported to have stopped off in the Canary Islands on his
way from Spain to Mexico in 1749, and there he is said to have collected seeds of the
palm. The story is totally apocryphal. Early missionaries were more concerned with crop
plants than ornamental palms.21 The story likely confuses the Canary Island date palm
Figure 3. Pre-1940 postcard from
Menton, France, showing Phoenix
canariensis in the landscape at the
Chateau de Grimaldi. From the
collection of Tom Moore
305
HORTICULTURAL HISTORY OF THE CANARY ISLAND DATE PAL M
with the true date palm, which was cultivated in the eighteenth century by missionaries,
although not always with great success. While there is evidence that the true date palm
was brought to Junípero Serra’s Mission, San Diego de Alcalá, in 1769, there is no record
of P. canariensis growing in any of the early missions.22 Serra’s biographers recount that
he travelled from Cadiz to the Caribbean without stopping in the Canary Islands, nor
is there any record placing P. canariensis in California before the nineteenth century.23
While Padre Serra laboured in the vineyards of the Lord, he did not do so under the shade
of the Canary Island date palm.
The credit for introducing P. canariensis goes to the early California nurserymen. The
first nursery to offer P. canariensis for sale in California was the nursery of Miller and
Sievers in San Francisco in their 1874 catalogue.24 That same year it was also offered by the
San José nursery of Bernard S. Fox.25 Note that this predates Chabaud’s 1882 publication
of the species epithet, an indication of the widespread use of the name P. canariensis by
nurserymen and horticulturists. The subsequent rise in popularity of P. canariensis in
California was probably the result of the pioneering efforts of John Rock (1836–1904),
who established a nursery near San José in Santa Clara County in 1865 and relocated
it to Niles in 1884, where it became the famous California Nursery Company. Rock
offered P. canariensis in his 1882 catalogue. After Rock’s death, the California Nursery
Company continued to supply palms throughout California. It famously supplied over
one hundred mature P. canariensis palms to line the ‘Palm Avenue’ of the Panama-Pacific
International Exposition, held in San Francisco in 1915 (Plate X).26
Nurseryman Ralph Kinton Stevens maintained his home and commercial nursery on
the property now occupied by Lotusland, an estate garden famous for its palms in Santa
Barbara, California. Stevens offered P. canariensis for sale in his 1891 and 1892 nursery
catalogues. Whether they were grown from seeds produced locally or procured from
overseas is not documented. His 1893 catalogue lists P. canariensis, as well as the same
species under the names P. reclinata (misapplied) and P. tenuis. Bill Dickenson estimated
that a specimen in Whittier, California, with a trunk over 30.5 m (100 feet) tall, was
planted c.1890. Another extraordinary planting of palms is found in the vicinity of Los
Angeles, California, in the Chavez Ravine Arboretum. The Arboretum, with its Avenue
of Palms, was founded in 1893. In Pasadena, the Huntington Botanical Gardens, the
former estate of railroad magnate Henry Huntington, has a significant specimen that it
acquired in 1906 as a large palm from Huntington’s uncle who lived in San Francisco.27
In Florida, the first documented introduction of P. canariensis was made by pioneering
nurseryman Henry Nehrling (1853–1929) who obtained seeds for his central Florida nursery
in 1886. He obtained seeds from the French Riviera and, later, directly from the Canary
Islands. Nehrling had a profound influence on the horticultural palette of Florida, so it
is likely he did much to popularize this species.28 By 1890, P. canariensis was listed in the
catalogue of the Royal Palm Nursery operated by brothers Pliny and Egbert Reasoner in
Manatee, Florida. The nursery, which still exists and is still run by the Reasoner family, is
one of the most famous nurseries in the State and was extremely influential in providing
landscaping material for Floridians. Through the collecting efforts of Walter T. Swingle, the
US Department of Agricultures Office of Seed and Plant Introduction received seeds of P.
canariensis from southern France in 1898 as Plant Introduction #1949. Swingle noted that
although the species was commonly cultivated in California, it was not yet common in the
south-eastern USA, where he correctly predicted it would thrive.29 By the turn of the twentieth
century P. canariensis was well established in the nursery trade in the USA. Postcards and
historical photographs documented the ubiquity of this palm in American landscapes. By
1903 the palm had become so ubiquitous that Ernest Braunton was moved to write:
306 GARDEN HISTORY 36 : 2
The most popular Palm for the masses, who look for grace and beauty combined with
cheapness, is P. canariensis. More of these are planted at present than any other three
species. In Los Angeles and vicinity they may be counted by the tens of thousands.30
Elsewhere in the Americas P. canariensis began appearing in twentieth-century catalogues
of botanical gardens and, by 1910, it was listed in the catalogue of plants at the botanical
garden of Buenos Aires, Argentina.31 Robert Grey reported it in the collection of the
Harvard Botanical Gardens in Cienfuegos, Cuba, although the date of its acquisition is
not given. If the palm thrived in botanical gardens, it soon spread to the local nursery
trade and from there to local gardens.32 For the remainder of the twentieth century the
Canary Island date palm was a popular and widely grown ornamental palm throughout
the Americas wherever the climate was mild.
PHOENIX CANARIENSIS I N AUSTRALIA
The Canary Island date palm reached the shores of Australia in the mid- to late 1800s.
The species was planted on a trial basis in Centennial Park, Sydney, under the directorship
of Joseph Maiden in 1908, before being were widely adopted elsewhere in Sydney. Some
of those original palms have succumbed to disease, but many are still present in Sydney.33
Several documented ceremonial plantings of P. canariensis were made in the botanic
garden of Melbourne. Records indicate the species was absent from the garden as late as
1883.34 On 26 September 1903 a Canary Island date palm was planted by Lady Clarke,
wife of Sir George Sydenham Clarke, who was Governor of Victoria from 1901 to 1903.
Subsequent plantings were made by the Victoria League in 1909 and Viscount Horatio
Kitchener, a hero of the Boer War, in 1910.35 The oldest specimen of P. canariensis in the
botanic garden of Adelaide is said to predate the establishment of the garden, which was
in 1855.36 This early date of introduction seems highly unlikely, in light of the palm’s
dissemination through the horticultural world in the second half of the nineteenth
century. The species was planted at some of the oldest homes in Perth in south-western
Australia in the 1880s.37
PHOENIX CANARIENSIS UNDER GLASS
Palms have always been favourite subjects in large, heated conservatories, both public and
private. Although its large size did not recommend it for glasshouse culture, P. canariensis
was brought into cultivation under glass in many parts of the world where it could
not grow outside (see Christen Smith’s palm, above). For example, the Buffalo and Erie
County (New York) Botanic Gardens’ South Park Conservatory planted P. canariensis in
1902, but removed the tree eighty-one years later when it threatened to grow through the
glass roof.38 The botanical garden of Geneva, Switzerland, received its first P. canariensis
in 1900, but by 1983 the palm was absent from the collection.39
SIGNIFICANCE
Like so many plants entering horticulture in the mid-nineteenth century, palms were
both a symbol of the vastness and richness of the world and of imperial or cultural
hegemony. As the USA and the countries of Europe (especially Britain) broadened their
political reach, new plants arrived on the horticultural scene in breathtaking abundance.
Palms were particularly emblematic of the exotic tropics and their ‘inevitable’ conquest.
P. canariensis achieved popularity as an ornamental palm even before the species was
formally named in 1882. Its rise in popularity in Europe coincided with the popularity
of subtropical and glasshouse gardening in Victorian England, as well as the botanical
307
HORTICULTURAL HISTORY OF THE CANARY ISLAND DATE PAL M
interchange among the many colonies of the British Empire, France and Spain.40 The
palm gained popularity in the French and Italian Rivieras just at the time, the 1860s,
when those areas became increasingly important centres for tourism in Europe. There the
palms soon symbolized, by association, lifestyles of glamour, elegance and wealth.
In the southern USA, California, Southern Europe and Australia, palms were already
part of the landscape when P. canariensis arrived. Native palms, such as Washingtonia
filifera in California, Livistona australis in New South Wales, and Sabal palmetto in
Florida, were both wild and cultivated. P. canariensis was readily accepted in these places,
where, as in the Bay Area of California, the prevailing gardening ethos was one of eclectic
inclusiveness, using both native and exotic species in landscapes that had both naturalistic
and geometric elements.41 Equally important was the fact that, in these frontier areas,
gardens were large enough to accommodate large, ornamental palms.
Outside of Southern Europe, P. canariensis achieved popularity with both the
upper and middle classes. In Florida, the demand for P. canariensis arose at a time when
Florida was being settled as a winter vacation destination for wealthy industrialists of
America’s Gilded Age (1878–89). Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railroad began
delivering tourists to Palm Beach in 1894 and to Miami in 1896 and, soon thereafter,
wealthy residents demanded stately palms for their stately winter homes. Nothing says
‘stately’ like P. canariensis. Estate architecture in Florida looked to the warm countries of
Mediterranean Europe for its inspiration and validation; likewise, landscape architecture
emulated the Mediterranean and its palms. The use of the palm in California coincided
with the post-Gold Rush (1849) economic boom and the widespread settlement of the
West. The palm prospered in California in the second half of the nineteenth century at
a time when newly wealthy landowners, who made their fortunes in agriculture, real
estate, transportation, mining or servicing miners, sought to build grand estates.42
By the latter half of the nineteenth century gardens of the middle classes were not
dedicated solely to providing food and medicine; ornamental plants were grown in
abundance. Middle-class gardeners found in P. canariensis a palm that was both elegantly
exotic and easy to grow. Seeds gathered from fruiting palms in public parks or cemeteries
grew readily in less expansive gardens. Alternatively, the palm was readily available from
nurseries. In California, the completion in 1905 of the aqueduct that brought water from
the Colorado River into the Los Angeles Basin ushered in a boom of middle-class home
ownership, which had a democratizing effect on gardening. Home owners of modest
means could convincingly emulate the larger gardens of the state’s wealthiest citizens. P.
canariensis symbolized those aspirations.
All these factors fostered demand for large, imposing palms, a demand that P.
canariensis was ideally suited to fill. Whether for majestic avenues, lofty civic buildings,
or lush, subtropical pleasure gardens, P. canariensis was the palm of choice. Beginning in
the last decades of the nineteenth century, the Canary Island date palm became one of the
most popular palms in cultivation. Its popularity continues to this day.
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1 The ancient kingdom of Mauretania
comprised an area corresponding to western
Algeria and northern Morocco; it is not to
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3 Antonio Quintero Lima, Miel y Palma
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4 Philip Barker-Webb and Sabin Berthelot,
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308 GARDEN HISTORY 36 : 2
6 William T. Aiton, Hortus Kewensis, 2nd
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Côte d’Azur (Paris: Librairie Agricole de la
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8 George Nicholson, Illustrated Dictionary
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9 Per Sunding, Christen Smith’s Diary from
the Canary Islands and his Importance for the
Canarian botany (available at: http://humboldt.
mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/10b.sunding.htm). Also
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Provate in Piena Aria nei Giardini d’Italia
(Florence: M. Ricci, 1915), p. 74.
11 Emile Sauvaigo, Les Cultures sur le
Littoral de la Méditerranée (Paris:
J.-B. Baillière & fils, 1894), p. 147.
12 Chabaud is in error as Linden did not
purchase the nursery from Verschaffelt until
1869.
13 Giardini de Sanremo (San Remo: Comune
di Sanremo, 2001), p. 47.
14 R. Davey, ‘Nice’, Lippincott’s Magazine of
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15 Chabaud, Les Palmier de la Côte d’Azur,
p. 136; Jean-Christophe Pintaud, ‘From
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Mediterranean shores’, Palms, 46(3) (2002),
pp. 149–53 (p. 150).
16 Alexandre Godefroy-Lebeuf, Phoenix
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17 Rolf Kyburz, ‘Discovering palms in
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(p. 41).
18 Mike Nelhams, Tresco Abbey Gardens,
personal communication, 16 August 2005.
19 Hilda Simon, The Date Palm: Bread of the
Desert (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1978), p. 83.
20 Victoria Padilla, Southern California
Gardens: An Illustrated History (Berkeley:
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Henry Donselman, How Did They Get Here?
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donselman/page5.html) (accessed on 10 August
2005); J. Richter, ‘Palms up! Only one kind is
native to the state, but California is defined by
these trees’, San Francisco Chronicle (30 June
2005) (available at: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/
article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/07/30/HOGP0DUFFQ1.
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21 Missionaries also needed date palm leaves
to celebrate Palm Sunday, so date palms served
a dual purpose in the early mission gardens;
Paul Popenoe, The Date Palm (Miami: Field
Research Projects, 1973), p. 18.
22 Simon, Date Palm, p. 86.
23 William W. Dunmire, Gardens of New
Spain (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004),
p. 302; Peter Thomas Conmy, Miguel José
Serra, Padre Junípero, OFM (San Francisco:
Grand Parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden
West, 1960), pp. 13, 14; Don DeNevi and Noel
Francis Moholy, Junípero Serra: The Illustrated
Story of the Franciscan Founder of California’s
Missions (San Francisco: Harper & Row,
1985), p. 36.
24 Thomas A. Brown, personnal
communication, 1 September 2005.
25 David C. Streatfield, ‘“Paradise” on
the frontier: Victorian gardens on the San
Francisco peninsula’, Garden History 12(1)
(1984), pp. 58–80.
26 H. Danaher and N. Kirk, ‘Palm paradise’,
Tri-City Voice (Freemont) (13 April 2004)
(available at: http://www.tricityvoice.com/
articledisplay.php?a=2386) (accessed on
13 September 2007).
27 Bill Dickenson, ‘Phoenix photo perils’,
Palm Journal, 122 (May 1995), pp. 44–6 (p.
45); Lili Singer, ‘Where roots run deep’, Los
Angeles Times (7 July 2005) (available at:
http://www.latimes.com/features/printedition/
home/la-hm-chavez7jul07,1,659185.story)
(accessed on 15 August 2005).
28 Henry Nehrling, The Plant World in
Florida (New York: Macmillan, 1933), pp. 142,
144.
29 US Department of Agriculture, Section
of Seed and Plant Introduction, Inventory
5 of Foreign Seeds and Plants (Washington,
DC: Government Printing Office, 1899), entry
‘1949’, p. 9.
30 Ernest Braunton, ‘Hardy palms in
California’, in Cyclopedia of American
Horticulture, 2nd edn by Liberty Hyde Bailey
(New York: Macmillan Co., 1903), p. 1194.
31 Carlos Thays, El Jardín Botánico de
Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires: Jacobo Peuser,
1919), p. 163.
32 Robert M. Grey, Report of the Harvard
Botanical Gardens, Soledad Estate, Cienfuegos,
Cuba (Atkins Foundation) 1900–1026
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927),
p. 66.
33 Paul Ashton and Kate Blackmore,
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South Wales University Press, 1988), p. 109.
34 William R. Guilfoyle, Catalogue of Plants
Under Cultivation in the Melbourne Botanic
Gardens (Melbourne: Government Printer,
HORTICULTURAL HISTORY OF THE CANARY ISLAND DATE PAL M 309
1883), p. 120. Phoenix canariensis was not
listed among the many other species of Phoenix
cultivated in the gardens.
35 Anon., Royal Botanic Gardens,
Melbourne, Australia (Melbourne: M. M.
Gibson (Gardens) Trust, 1961), n.p.
36 Cliff Sawtell, personal communication,
22 August 2005.
37 Kingsley Dickson, personal
communication, 20 August 2005.
38 Jean Gier, A Historical Look at the
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
(Buffalo: Buffalo & Erie County Botanical
Society, 1990) (available at: http://www.
buffalogardens.com) (accessed on 11 September
2007).
39 Bastian Bise, Fred Stauffer and Pierre
Matille, ‘Palms at the botanical garden of
Geneva, Switzerland’, Palms, 50(1) (2006),
pp. 39–48.
40 Jim Reynolds, ‘“Palm trees shivering in
a Surrey shrubbery” – a history of subtropical
gardening’, Principes, 41(2) (1997), pp. 74–83
(p. 76).
41 Dianne Harris, ‘Making gardens in the
Athens of the West: Bernard Maybeck and the
San Francisco Bay region tradition in landscape
and garden design’, in Marc Treib (ed.),
Regional Garden Design in the United States
(Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research
Library & Collection, 1995), pp. 43–68 (p. 56).
42 Streatfield, ‘Paradise” on the frontier’, p. 69.
Plate X. ‘Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915.’, a postcard
showing the Avenue of Palms, comprised of Phoenix canariensis supplied by the
California Nursery Company. Courtesy: collection of Tom Moore
Plate IX. Stéphane Mallarmé’s garden at 4 Quai Valvins (Vulaines): side view of the
orchard area looking back towards the house. Photo: author, July 2008
... Introduced into the European nursery trade in the 1860s [50], they found ready acceptance as feature trees in private and urban parks and were employed for effect as linear plantings in streets and on promenades (e.g., at Nice or Cannes) during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century [51,52], so much so that they are now distributed throughout many warm temperate climates [53]. ...
... Not covered in the discussion will be the exoticism of the plant, which gave rise to its rapid introduction into the horticultural market during the late nineteenth century [50,51], and which is still a factor in the minds of many property owners who continue to plant Canary Islands date palms and other palm species to surround the suburban homes [35,37]. Also not discussed in detail, but important to be mentioned, are the broader benefits of amenity green spaces in urban areas for mental health [77][78][79], a sense of safety [80], and a general sense of place [81]. ...
Article
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Canary Island date palms (Phoenix canariensis) have been planted as a landscaping feature plant throughout warm, temperate, and subtropical climates. The physical amenity provisioning of this species (shade effects, microclimate amelioration, water usage, etc.) has so far not been systematically assessed. This paper reports on temperature and humidity measurements in both a suburban and a rural location in SE Australia. The study demonstrates the effects of the palm canopy as regulator of humidity and provider of shade and, thus, amenity values in urban landscape settings. Drawing on published energy savings and growth requirements of the plant, the paper argues that Canary Island date palms are landscaping plants suitable to ameliorate the microclimate in urban neighborhoods with varied socio-economic conditions.
... Phoenix canariensis H.Wildpret) (family Arecaceae) (Rivera et al., 2013), the Canary Island Date Palm, is endemic to the Canary Islands (Lipnitz & Kretschmar, 1994;Sosa et al., 2016). It entered the nursery trade in the mid-1860s and soon found wide acceptance on a global scale, first as an indoor and warm-house plant, and soon after as a landscaping feature in private and public spaces (Spennemann, 2018d(Spennemann, , 2019bZona, 2008). Today it is present in most parts of the world with a temperature or subtropical climate (Spennemann, 2018c). ...
... Setting aside humans as the primary, long-distance dispersal agent (as ornamentals) (Spennemann, 2018b(Spennemann, , 2018dZona, 2008), a range of volant and terrestrial vertebrate vectors are responsible for the palm dispersal (see review in Spennemann, 2019c). Given the size of the drupe (and seed), fruit bats (Pteropus poliocephalus) are a possible, but less common disperser in the Australian context (Spennemann, 2018e), whereas larger birds such as Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) and Honeyeaters tend to disperse readily, but in the main only short-distance (to the closest perch) (Spennemann, in press). ...
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The recruitment processes and resulting distribution pattern of bird-dispersed Canary Island Date Palm, Phoenix canariensis (family Arecaceae) in a riverine forest setting are described. All palms on a near-urban peninsula of the Murrumbidgee River near Hay, New South Wales were GPS mapped and classified into height-dependent age categories. The distribution of the plants was examined spatially in relation to possible source palms and in relation to elevation with regard to flooding levels. Successful recruitment is subject to a range of environmental parameters, primarily palatability to vectors and seedling mortality due to lack of moisture, frost or grazing by herbivores. If a seedling survives that critical period of the first 18 months, long-term success is (almost) guaranteed, unless catastrophic events (bushfires, prolonged flooding) intervene. Based on the findings, a conceptual model for the recruitment of Phoenix canariensis palms is provided. Even though the palms produce fruit for much of the year (March-December), the time window for successful recruitment is restricted to a period from August to mid-September with short shoulder periods on either side.
... Molecular phylogenetic dating places the divergence of its own tribe, Phoeniceae, to the early Tertiary period (Couvreur et al. 2011), while the fossil record, abundant and unequivocal, reaches back to the Eocene Epoch (Dransfield et al. 2008). The Phoenix genus has been the focus of numerous studies, principally owing to the widely cultivated date palm, P. dactylifera This is less true for P. canariensis despite it having attracted significant horticultural interest worldwide (Zona 2008;Spennemann 2018a). However, important advances have been achieved in the past three decades relative to knowledge of the distribution and genetic patterns of this species. ...
... Seed morphology of P. canariensis is also peculiar, with seeds ellipsoidal or ellipticoblong, length 11-17(20) mm, breadth 7-11 mm, smooth, apex and base usually obtuse and bearing longitudinal striations, bearing a close resemblance to the fossil seeds from the Miocene Epoch of the Czech Republic named P. bohemica (Rivera et al. 2014b(Rivera et al. , 2020. Over decades, P. canariensis has attracted significant horticultural interest worldwide, and as a result, thousands of seeds and plants have been collected from the wild for private collections and botanical gardens (Zona 2008;Rivera et al. 2013b;Martínez-Rico 2017;Spennemann 2019a, b). The ease with which mature palm specimens can be transplanted makes them eminently suitable for "instant" gardens. ...
Article
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The Canarian date palm, Phoenix canariensis, is one of the most representative endemic plant species of the Canary Islands, although it is better known for its significant horticultural interest because it is one of the most appreciated ornamental trees of the subtropical and tropical worlds for its ability to grow on a wide range of site types. The naturally-occurring Canarian palm groves are the most important genetic reservoir of the species. This review aims to bring together the most important advances reached in the past three decades relative to the distribution, genetics and reproductive biology patterns of this species. Currently, P. canariensis palm groves are experiencing conservation problems such as the high pressure of human activities, and invasive pests, so it is appropriate to summarize all the current knowledge to make it available for incorporation into conservation strategies.
... In its natural distribution, P. canariensis is endemic to the Canary Islands (Lipnitz and Kretschmar 1994;Sosa, Naranjo, Márquez, Gil and Saro 2016). It was quickly and widely dispersed during the second half of the ninetieth century as a horticultural feature plant and street tree (Spennemann 2018a;Spennemann 2019b;Zona 2008). Today it is distributed globally in all warm temperate regions (Spennemann 2018b). ...
... The primary, long-distance dispersal agent for P. canariensis are people, in particular when planting specimens of the palm species as ornamentals (Spennemann 2018a;Spennemann 2018c;Zona 2008). Globally, a range of volant and terrestrial vertebrate vectors are responsible for the dispersal of P. canariensis (Spennemann 2019c). ...
Article
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Canary Island Date Palms are widely planted as ornamental plants in private and public spaces. As both prolific and long-duration seeders, their drupes provide food for a range of volant and terrestrial vertebrates. This study experimentally examined the germination of vertebrate digested seeds. Whereas seeds in Flying-fox spat did not yield a higher germination rate than undigested controls, seeds that had passed through the gastro-intestinal tract and were deposited in scats, or those that were ingested and regurgitated from the crop, have a significantly better probability of germinating. This establishes Pied Currawongs as effective short-range dispersers and canid frugivores, such as the Red Fox, as major medium-and long-distance vectors of ornamental palms.
... It was quickly and widely dispersed during the second half of the nineteenth century as a horticultural feature plant and street tree (Spennemann 2018a(Spennemann , 2019bZona 2008). Today it is distributed globally in all warm temperate regions (Spennemann 2018c). ...
Article
Full-text available
In many countries, Canary Islands Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis) have escaped their horticulturally managed settings and have commenced to colonise surrounding natural bushland. While dispersed by various vectors, both birds and canids such as foxes, fluctuating environmental conditions may inhibit germination in the season of deposition. The potential of old, previous season’s seeds to germinate when conditions turn favourable has direct implications on the plant’s ability to establish viable, colonising populations. Nothing is known about the ability of older, previous season’s seeds to successfully germinate. Based in experimental data, this paper shows that that the seeds of Phoenix canariensis exhibit both substantial inter-specimen and inter-seasonal variations in their germination potential. The observed variability is caused by the high genetic diversity inherent in a given palm population, as well as by range of environmental factors. At the present stage it is impossible to separate these two. Directions for further research are outlined.
... Canary Island date palms (Phoenix canariensis Wildpret ex Chabaud) are endemic to the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa (Rivera et al., 2013). Introduced into the European nursery trade in the 1860s (Spennemann, 2019a), they found ready acceptance as feature trees in private and urban parks and were employed for effect as linear plantings in streets and on promenades (e.g. at Nice or Cannes) during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (Spennemann, 2018a;Zona, 2008), so much so that they are now distributed throughout the warm temperate climates (Spennemann, 2018b). ...
Technical Report
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There are no comprehensive published studies that document the growth rates of Phoenix canariensis palms in south-eastern Australia. The opportunity arose to measure a commercial plantation of 110 Phoenix canariensis palms near Wodonga (Victoria) which was planted as a retirement investment, to be harvested only when the palms have a sizeable, 5 m tall stem. The aim of this document is to place on record the heights of the palms as they present themselves in March 2020, in order to allow for a re-documentation in five years’ time
... Phoenix canariensis Chabaud (Canary Islands date palms) and Washingtonia robusta Wendland (Mexican fan palms) are ubiquitous ornamental plants which were distributed by the horticultural industry during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Bailey, 1936, p. 63ff;Ishihata & Murata, 1971;Spennemann, 2018aSpennemann, , 2019bZona, 2008) well beyond their endemic ranges in the Canary Islands (Naranjo, Sosa, & Márquez, 2009) and northern Mexico respectively (Cornett, 1989;McCurrach, 1960, p. 264f). Both have become major ornamental trees on a global scale, planted in private and public gardens, as well as on occasion, as street trees in many communities with a temperate climate (Spennemann, 2018c). ...
Article
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Palms are ubiquitous as landscaping plants in many urban areas. Dispersed by frugivorous birds and often tolerated as self-seeded plants by the property owners, Phoenix canariensis (Canary Islands date palms) and two species of fan palms (Washingtonia robusta and Washingtonia filifera) in particular, have become established in many urban spaces. This paper examines the establishment of such self-seeded palms as epiphytic growth in crooks and branch scars of suburban street trees. Given the limited nutrient availability and the restricted space for rootmass development, these palms undergo a natural bonsai process. Some palms have persisted for over a decade without reaching sexual maturity. While the epiphytic growth demonstrates the palms' further dispersal capability, it does not appear to increase their potential invasiveness into new areas of land.
... The large-scale planting of Phoenix canariensis in the south of France in the 1870s (Spennemann 2019, Zona 2008) ensured a steady supply of raw material. The artisanal industries in France took up the manufacture of hats, mats and baskets from its leaves (Guisabu & Vanden-Berghe 1882), as local production offset import tariffs on completed goods (e.g., hats: Firmin-Didot & Firmin-Didot 1862). ...
Article
With drupes too acrid for human consumption, Canary Islands Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis) are primarily known for their use as ornamental palms in private and public settings. Little is known about the non-food uses of the leaves, stems and roots of Canary Islands Date Palms. This paper summarises the provisioning services of Canary Island Date Palms.
Technical Report
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Research into Washingtonia sp. identified a number of illustrations of which have never been systematically compiled or analysed. A perusal of late nineteenth and early twentieth century postcards shows that Washingtonia palms are very popular motifs. This document compiles and analyses a large number of early twentieth century images of Washingtonia filifera and Washingtonia robusta on Californian postcards that could be located during a systematic search of the literature and on-line auctions
Article
Our aim in this study is to build a model for the expansion of date palms (Phoenix spp., Arecaceae) that can be linked to domestication processes. Palaeontological and archaeobotanical evidence concerning date palm is extremely diversified around the Mediterranean Basin and in West Asia, mainly consisting of date fruit remains, but also including leaf fragments and other plant remains. This biological evidence is further compared with cultural evidence (coins, pottery, ancient texts) and the present distribution of Phoenix spp. in the area. Bayesian methods working with likelihood and conditional probabilities are successfully applied to generate a model for displaying in maps the ancient distribution of palm groves in terms of probabilities. The model suggests that the domestication of Phoenix dactylifera occurred mainly east of 30°E, probably in the Jordan Valley area, starting before 7 kya and, in a westward shift, that this was gradually superposed onto pre-existing local western populations of the same genus, especially in the Nile valley. It appears that this mainly affected the P. dactylifera western cluster (P. excelsior, P. atlantica, P. iberica). However, other taxa persisted as independent species (P. theophrasti, P. canariensis).
Azur, p. 136; Jean-Christophe Pintaud, 'From Barcelona to Bordighera: palm gardens on Mediterranean shores', Palms
  • Les Chabaud
  • Côte Palmier De La
15 Chabaud, Les Palmier de la Côte d'Azur, p. 136; Jean-Christophe Pintaud, 'From Barcelona to Bordighera: palm gardens on Mediterranean shores', Palms, 46(3) (2002), pp. 149–53 (p. 150).
Phoenix canariensis, Le Jardin, 1 (1887), p. 67. 17 Rolf KyburzDiscovering palms in Europe
  • Alexandre Godefroy-Lebeuf
Alexandre Godefroy-Lebeuf, Phoenix canariensis, Le Jardin, 1 (1887), p. 67. 17 Rolf Kyburz, 'Discovering palms in Europe', Principes, 33(1) (1989), pp. 40–4 (p. 41).
45); Lili SingerWhere roots run deep
27 Bill Dickenson, 'Phoenix photo perils', Palm Journal, 122 (May 1995), pp. 44–6 (p. 45); Lili Singer, 'Where roots run deep', Los Angeles Times (7 July 2005) (available at: http://www.latimes.com/features/printedition/ home/la-hm-chavez7jul07,1,659185.story) (accessed on 15 August 2005).
Palm trees shivering in a Surrey shrubbery" -a history of subtropical gardening
  • Jim Reynolds
Jim Reynolds, '"Palm trees shivering in a Surrey shrubbery" -a history of subtropical gardening', Principes, 41(2) (1997), pp. 74-83 (p. 76).
How Did They Get Here? (available at: http://www.homestead.com/ donselman/page5.html) (accessed on 10
  • Henry Donselman
Henry Donselman, How Did They Get Here? (available at: http://www.homestead.com/ donselman/page5.html) (accessed on 10 August 2005);
28 Henry Nehrling The Plant World in Florida 29 US Department of Agriculture, Section of Seed and Plant Introduction, Inventory 5 of Foreign Seeds and Plants (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1899), entry '1949', p. 9. 30 Ernest Braunton, 'Hardy palms in California
  • Lili Singer
Lili Singer, 'Where roots run deep', Los Angeles Times (7 July 2005) (available at: http://www.latimes.com/features/printedition/ home/la-hm-chavez7jul07,1,659185.story) (accessed on 15 August 2005). 28 Henry Nehrling, The Plant World in Florida (New York: Macmillan, 1933), pp. 142, 144. 29 US Department of Agriculture, Section of Seed and Plant Introduction, Inventory 5 of Foreign Seeds and Plants (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1899), entry '1949', p. 9. 30 Ernest Braunton, 'Hardy palms in California', in Cyclopedia of American Horticulture, 2nd edn by Liberty Hyde Bailey (New York: Macmillan Co., 1903), p. 1194. 31 Carlos Thays, El Jardín Botánico de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires: Jacobo Peuser, 1919), p. 163. 32 Robert M. Grey, Report of the Harvard Botanical Gardens, Soledad Estate, Cienfuegos, Cuba (Atkins Foundation) 1900–1026 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927), p. 66. 33 Paul Ashton and Kate Blackmore, Centennial Park: A History (Kensington: New South Wales University Press, 1988), p. 109. 34 William R. Guilfoyle, Catalogue of Plants Under Cultivation in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens (Melbourne: Government Printer, 1883), p. 120. Phoenix canariensis was not listed among the many other species of Phoenix cultivated in the gardens. 35 Anon., Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Australia (Melbourne: M. M.
OFM (San Francisco: Grand Parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West, 1960), pp. 13, 14; Don DeNevi and Noel Francis Moholy, Junípero Serra: The Illustrated Story of the Franciscan Founder of California's Missions Paradise " on the frontier: Victorian gardens on the San Francisco peninsula'
  • Paul Popenoe
  • The Date
  • Palm
Paul Popenoe, The Date Palm (Miami: Field Research Projects, 1973), p. 18. 22 Simon, Date Palm, p. 86. 23 William W. Dunmire, Gardens of New Spain (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004), p. 302; Peter Thomas Conmy, Miguel José Serra, Padre Junípero, OFM (San Francisco: Grand Parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West, 1960), pp. 13, 14; Don DeNevi and Noel Francis Moholy, Junípero Serra: The Illustrated Story of the Franciscan Founder of California's Missions (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), p. 36. 24 Thomas A. Brown, personnal communication, 1 September 2005. 25 David C. Streatfield, ' " Paradise " on the frontier: Victorian gardens on the San Francisco peninsula', Garden History 12(1) (1984), pp. 58–80. 26 H. Danaher and N. Kirk, 'Palm paradise', Tri-City Voice (Freemont) (13 April 2004) (available at: http://www.tricityvoice.com/ articledisplay.php?a=2386) (accessed on 13 September 2007). 27 Bill Dickenson, 'Phoenix photo perils', Palm Journal, 122 (May 1995), pp. 44–6 (p.
Palms up! Only one kind is native to the state, but California is defined by these trees') (available at: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi?f= 21 Missionaries also needed date palm leaves to celebrate Palm Sunday, so date palms served a dual purpose in the early mission gardens
  • J Richter
J. Richter, 'Palms up! Only one kind is native to the state, but California is defined by these trees', San Francisco Chronicle (30 June 2005) (available at: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/07/30/HOGP0DUFFQ1. DTL) (accessed on 11 September 2007). 21 Missionaries also needed date palm leaves to celebrate Palm Sunday, so date palms served a dual purpose in the early mission gardens;