Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Phoenix Roebelenii

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Phoenix roebelenii (09/02/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Phoenix roebelenii (09/02/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 3m

Eventual Spread: 3m

Hardiness: 10b – 12

Family: Arecaceae

Phoenix roebelenii is a small growing evergreen palm tree. Its mid green leaves are up to 1.2m long,  pinnate with up to 100 leaflets. Its leaflets are up to 25cm long and 1cm broad. Its trunk mat achieve a diameter of up to 20cm. Its bark is light grey/ brown with leaf bases persisting. Its dioecious yellow flowers are small and are produced on an inflorescence which is up to 45cm long. Its dark brown fruit is a drupe, up to 1cm across and edible.

Phoenix roebeleni, commonly known as the Pygmy Date Palm, Dwarf Date Palm or Miniature Date Palm, is native to north Vietnam and Laos. In its native habitat it grows below the rainforest canopy.

The etymological root of the binomial name Phoenix is the old Greek name for the date palm, used by Theophrastus. Roebeleni is named after Carl Roebelen (1855 – 1927), a German botanist.

The landscape architect may find Phoenix roebeleni useful as a small attractive palm. Once established this palm is moderately drought tolerant. In the UK this plant will only overwinter reliably under glass.

Phoenix roebelenii Bark (09/02/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Phoenix roebelenii Bark (09/02/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Ecologically, Phoenix roebeleni fruit are attractive to some mammal and bird species.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Phoenix roebeleni their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Phoenix roebeleni prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Phoenix roebeleni requires little maintenance.

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