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[[{{{domain}}}]] > [[{{{superregnum}}}]] > Plantae > [[{{{subregnum}}}]] > [[{{{superdivisio}}}]] > [[{{{superphylum}}}]] > [[]] > [[{{{phylum}}}]] > [[{{{subdivisio}}}]] > [[{{{subphylum}}}]] > [[{{{infraphylum}}}]] > [[{{{microphylum}}}]] > [[{{{nanophylum}}}]] > [[{{{superclassis}}}]] > [[]] > [[{{{subclassis}}}]] > [[{{{infraclassis}}}]] > [[{{{superordo}}}]] > [[]] > [[{{{subordo}}}]] > [[{{{infraordo}}}]] > [[{{{superfamilia}}}]] > [[]] > [[{{{subfamilia}}}]] > [[{{{supertribus}}}]] > [[{{{tribus}}}]] > [[{{{subtribus}}}]] > [[]] {{{subgenus}}} {{{sectio}}} {{{series}}} var.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Phoenix (Theophrastus gave this name to the date palm, perhaps thinking of Phoenicia, where the Greeks were supposed first to have seen it, or of the Phoenician purple, or of the fabled bird of Egypt). Palmaceae. A distinct and exceedingly useful genus of palms, planted for fruit, ornament and shade.

Palms with sts. spineless (in many species the lower lfts. are reduced to long stout spine-like processes), without trunks, or with stout or slender, short or long, erect or inclined trunks, often cespitose, clothed above with the persistent bases of the lvs.: lvs. terminal, spreading, recurved, unequally pinnate; segms. somewhat fasciculate or almost equidistant, elongated - lanceolate or ensiform, acuminate, rigid, inserted by the wide base; margins entire or folded on their entire length; rachis laterally compressed, con vex on the back; petiole planoconvex, usually spiny, with very short rigid pinnae; sheaths short, fibrous: spadices usually many, erect or nodding in fr., or pendent, appearing among the lvs.: peduncle strongly compressed: branches usually somewhat umbellate: spathe basilar, entire, long, compressed, 2-edged, coriaceous ventrally and at length dorsally divided; bracts usually obsolete; fls. small, leathery, yellow: fr. a berry or drupe, oblong, orange, brown or black, the seed always grooved.—Species 10-12, perhaps more, in Trop. and Subtrop. Asia and Afr. The botanical monograph of the genus Phoenix by Beccari (in Malesia 3:345) admits only 10 species, although there are about 60 names. Such a "lumping" of species is very unwelcome to the horticulturist, and it is probable that nearly all the synonyms cited below represent forms that are abundantly distinct for horticultural purposes. The following account of the genus is adapted from the work of Beccari. especially the Asiatic species. A good horticultural appreciation of Phoenix is that by William Watson, of Kew, in G.C. III. 9:234, 298, from which liberal extracts are made below. Phoenixes differ from all other pinnate-lvd. palms in having the lvs. folded upward and lengthwise, and in the peculiar form of the seed, as seen in the date stone. The plants are either male or female.

The fruits of only one species are used for food; viz., P. dactylifera. (For date-culture, see Date.) In England, only P. rupicola ranks among popular decorative plants. Of all palms, the cultivated species of Phoenix are the most difficult to define. Many hybrids have been raised in the gardens of the Riviera, where several species flower and fruit every year. It is almost impossible to keep these pure. Kerchove records the wonderful fecundity of a phoenix; P. reclinata at Nice fertilized with pollen from P. tenuis, P. reclinata and P. pumila produced 20,000 seeds. The raising of phoenixes from seed is done on a large scale on the Riviera. The seeds are sown in beds in the open and the seedlings transplanted into shallow trenches like celery, so that the trenches may be regularly flooded during the summer drought. Next to the coco-palm, the date is one of the most useful trees in the world. P. canariensis is the noblest of all phoenixes, and one of the most majestic palms in cultivation. Its rate of growth is astonishing: a tree supposed to be only ten years old had a trunk 4 feet high. 3 feet in diameter at the base, with about one hundred leaves forming a head 25 feet across. Another specimen of about the same size bore eight bunches of fruit, each weighing about fifty pounds. P. sylvestris is the wild date of India, where it is cultivated for its sap, which yields sugar and "toddy." The trunk attains a height of about 4 feet when seven years old, and it is then tapped by cutting a notch in the stem at the top and catching the sap as it runs out. The tree continues to yield annually fifteen to eighteen gallons of sap for twenty to twenty-five years, or eight pounds of sugar a year. Many thousand tons of date-sugar are produced every year in Bengal alone from this and other palms. "P. reclinata and P. spinosa are united under the former name by Beccari. Taking the dwarf, cespitose, shiny- leaved elegant plant found in Caffraria as far south as Gra- hamstown, and comparing it with the tall, solitary stem, huge-headed, gray- green-leaved plant of the tropical regions of Africa, it is difficult to believe that they are merely forms of one species." An interesting novelty in phoenix is the plant known as P. Roebelenii, the pygmy phoenix (Fig. 2919.) Specimens twenty to thirty years old have stems not over 2 feet High. Watson says: "It is by far the smallest of all the many kinds of phoenix known, and is also exceptional in the form of its stem and in the elegance and soft texture of its bright green leaves." Watson adds that it deserves to rank with Cocos Weddelliana and Geonoma gracilis for usefulness in a small state. This palm suckers freely and in a wild state grows in clumps. P. Roebelenii is often treated as a variety of P. humilis; but Watson and others think that it is a distinct species and that in the form and texture of its leaves it resembles P. rupicola more than any other species. Because of its distinctness horticulturally and the general uncertainty in the genus, it is advisable to keep P. Roebelenii distinct for the present at least. It is native in the Laos region of Indo-China, where it was discovered by Mr. Roebelin, who went there regularly every year and exported the seed to Europe by way of Bangkok. It is specially abundant in the Nam Ou River Valley, and occurs also toward Pac Lay.

The botany of Phoenix is much confused, and no one knows what is planted in this country under the different names. The species hybridize freely, and it is probable that most of the cultivated forms are hybrids of various mixtures. While some of the garden names are considered by botanists to be synonyms, they may represent distinct plants to the horticulturist. Any treatment of Phoenix as represented in North America must now be tentative.

Cultivation of phoenix.

In Florida.—In moist land no special care is necessary in setting out these palms. All they require is shade after the planting of small specimens, and a mulch of old grass or stable-manure. They must be frequently tilled and fertilized. Always use a fertilizer rich in ammonia while they are making their growth. In autumn, a fertilizer containing 10 or 12 per cent of potash should be used, with a good addition of phosphoric acid. This will make the plants more hardy to endure occasional cold spells. On high dry pineland, holes 3 to 5 or 6 feet deep and wide should be dug for the large-growing species, and these holes should be filled with old stable-manure, bones, muck, and clay. Plant in a saucer-like depression about a foot deep in the center, and apply a heavy mulch of old stable- manure after the the plant has been set out. If stable- manure is not at hand, old leaves and grass may be used instead. Small plants should be well shaded for a year or so, and they also should be kept constantly moist during the dry season. All hardy palms should be set out in November, December, and January. One is not likely to be successful in transplanting them in the dry season from March to June.—In Florida, experience has been had with plants under the following names: P. canariensis is the most beautiful as well as the most massive of the tall-growing single-stemmed species. The trunk in young specimens is immense. It is a fast grower in rich moist soils, but very slow and unsatisfactory in high dry sandy lands. It is excellent as a single specimen on lawns, or for streets. Its dense immense crown of elegantly curving pinnate leaves, each often 15 feet long and of a very pleasing green color, and its stately and rapid growth, combine to make this species an ideal avenue tree for central Florida, along with Sabal Palmetto, Washingtonia robusta and Phoenix sylvestris. Farther south Cocos plumosa and Orcodoxa regia must be added. There are hybrids of this species and P. sylvestris and P. dactylifera. Seeds from the Riviera and Italy seldom produce plants true to name because the plants evidently are pollinated by the species mentioned. It is necessary to import the seeds from the Canary Islands, if plants true to name are desired. P. tenuis is only a more slender form of it. P. canariensis is easily distinguished by its greenish yellow leaf-stalks and spines.—P. sylvestris is a very stately and beautiful palm with light bluish green leaves, growing well on high pineland but doing best on rich moist soils. There are hybrids between this species and P. canariensis.—The date palm, P. dacty- lifera, is common in many gardens, the product of seeds taken from the commercial dates bought in the shops. Most of the real date palms do not look beautiful. They are rather coarse, but a few of them show a dense crown of deep bluish green leaves. It often produces large bunches of orange-yellow juicy but rather bitter fruit. The mocking-birds are very fond of it. The foregoing three phoenixes are hardy as far north as Jacksonville. The remainder are all more tender.— P. reclinata is a most beautiful palm with slender stem and a dense crown of reclining leaves. Great confusion exists concerning this fine palm, as quite a number of the species having more massive stems and much broader and more spiny leaves are labelled with this name. The true P. reclinata, as understood in Florida, has soft leaves, and the leaflets are scarcely spiny. Although it suckers, the offsets are not so abundant or so vigorous as in the plant known as P. spinosa. It is really a one-stemmed species. The trunk is very slender, scarcely more than 4 or 5 inches in diameter. It grows as well on high dry pineland as in moister and richer soil, but the growth is much more rapid in good soil.—P. spinosa, from a horticultural standpoint, is very distinct from the last. The leaves are very vigorous, deep green and each leaflet terminates in a very sharp spine. The foliage is so extremely spiny that it is very difficult to trim the plants. This palm always grows in clumps of five or six or more stems, and it attains a height of 25 to 30 feet. The trunks are rather rough and massive, 9 or 10 inches in diameter, and the leaves are recurving, as in the last.—P. fari- nifera, or the palm grown in Florida under this name, is similar in growth to P. spinosa, but the leaves are lighter green with a slight glaucous hue. and the spines on the leaflets are even more formidable. The leaves, particularly at their lower end, are covered with a fine mealy substance.—P. zeylanica is one of the most beautiful and distinct of all the phoenixes, with the color of the Colorado blue spruce. If single stems are desired, the suckers should be removed as soon as they appear. This species thrives on high and low land.— P. leonensis, by botanists referred to R. reclinata, grows in large dense clumps 10 to 12 feet high, scarcely forming trunks. The leaves are deep green, rather soft to the touch and not spiny. Only the petioles are provided, as in all these palms, with formidable spines. It blooms in spring, and fruits abundantly in winter. It grows evidently best on high pineland.—P. paludosa forms large clumps, and massive trunks from 1 to 1 1/2 feet in diameter and 15 to 25 feet high; a strong grower but rather coarse in appearance. It grows well on high and low lands.—P. acaulis does not form trunks. It is a low, very rigid little palm. The leaves are so spiny that it is difficult to walk among the clumps.—P. rupicola (P. cycadifolia) is the most elegant and beautiful of all the phoenixes in central Florida. Specimens 6 to 7 feet high look extremely beautiful. The leaves are glossy green and very smooth, suggesting the foliage of some species of Cycas. They are elegantly curving to all sides, and as the leaflets are all arranged horizontally in one plane, well-grown specimens form objects of great beauty. It grows well only in rich moist soil and half shade.—P. Roebelenii is a dainty little phoenix now represented in many Florida gardens, but it grows well only in rich moist soil and in half-shady spots. It excels all other small palms in grace, elegance, and beauty.(H. Nehrling.) In California.—The number of species and varieties of phoenix grown in California is a problem so complex that one dares not attempt a solution. The nursery trade recognizes the following names: P. canariensis, P. cycadifolia, P. dactylifera, P. leonensis, P. Roebelenii, P. reclinata, P. rupicola, P. sylvestris, and P. tenuis. Occasionally other names are met with in private collections, but no others appear in California plant catalogues. All are considered hardy except the dwarf P. Roebelenii. Specimens of P. dactylifera grow as high as 100 feet. Some specimens grown from seed saved from commercial dates have made 50 feet of trunk in thirty years, while others of the same seeding have made but 8 feet. Either there are numerous hybrids in California or else some species that no one knows. Specimens are known in all shades of green and glaucous- green, all habits of growth, stiff and upright, pendulous and soft, narrow leaves and broad ones, slim-folded and wide-spreading, the latter like an inverted leaf of Jubaea spectabilis. No one has attempted to straighten them out. The only species easily recognized everywhere and by everyone is P. canari- ensis, the gem of the genus. This is regarded by one eminent Californian nurseryman as a garden hybrid, but it always produces fertile seeds, and seedlings from it do not vary, which cannot be said of any other phoenix here. Next in popularity comes P. reclinata; the others are found only in collections. P. canariensis is most easily removed from the ground, and the best time is August and September, the hottest weather, as then they recuperate faster. The only other time to remove is in the early spring, before growth, and then if the weather turns cold it is dangerous. (Ernest Braunton.)

In the North.—Although phoenixes cannot be considered to be as decorative subjects as the howeas and chrysalidocar- pus, they are among the hardiest of palms. For any unfavorable situation where any palm can be expected to thrive, recommend a phoenix. Outdoors they endure the hottest sunshine without losing a particle of color, whether placed in jars, vases, or beds. As house-plants they are unequaled for resistance to neglect. They also bear the tying and untying and the crowding and wear and tear of public decorative work better than any other palms. The date palm is not quite so graceful as P. rupicola; P. leonensis, or P. spinosa, is slightly stiffer than P. rupicola, but very handsome. Other kinds useful to the florist are P. canariensis, P. fari- nifera, P. pumila, and P. tenuis. (This paragraph has been adapted from an article in Scott's "Florists' Manual" which embodies the experience of Mr. Scott and of the undersigned. (W. H. Tap'lin.)


{Various other names will be found in horticultural literature, but the following comprise those known to the American trade.)

acaulis, 8. Andersonii, 1. canariensis, 10. cyoadifolia l, 12. dactylifera, 12. excelsa, 12. farinifera, 4. Hanceana, 6. humilis. 6. Jubae, 10. leonensis, 2. Lourierii, 7. macrocarpa, 10. melanocarpa, 2. paludosa, 3. pumila, 9. pusilla, 4, 5. reclinata, 2. Roebelenii. 7. rupicola, 1. senegalensis, 2. spinosa, 2. sylvestris, 11. tenuis, 10. zanzibarensis, 2. zeylanica, 5.

P. andamanensis, Hort. Similar to P. rupicola, but more elegant, differing from those in cult, by the regularity of its pinnae and narrowness of the terminal one. Andaman Isls.—P. dumosa, Hort. Saul, 1893. Of "dwarf habit." Seems unknown to botanists. —P. natalensis and var. variegata are offered, but no description is available.—P. paradenia is advertised.—P. Sanderiana. Presumably intro. within recent years by Sander & Co., St. Albans, England.

Wilhelm Miller. Jared G. Smith. N. Taylor. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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