Phoenix dactylifera (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Phoenix dactylifera L.

Family: Palmae

Vernacular names

  • Date palm (En)
  • Palmier dattier (Fr)
  • Malaysia: kurma
  • Burma: swon ba lwon
  • Cambodia: sremo
  • Thailand: inthaphalam
  • Vietnam: chà là.


The date palm probably originates from the area around the Persian Gulf. It is cultivated in arid and dry semi-arid areas of the tropics and subtropics all over the world. Iraq is the major producer.


The fruits, dates, are eaten as sweets or as staple food. Numerous other uses are known, e.g. trunks for building, leaves for thatch and fodder, seeds for fodder, flowers to flavour drinks, young leaves as vegetable, spathes are tapped for wine.


  • Dioecious palm up to 30 m tall, suckering at base, with dense crown of 100-120 pinnate leaves, leaf-bases persistent.
  • Fruit a cylindrical drupe, up to 7.5 cm × 2.5 cm, yellow to red-brown, in dense hanging clusters; flesh containing 60-75% sugar.
  • Seed 1, deeply grooved, with very hard endosperm.

High temperatures (over 30°C during ripening), ample sunshine, low humidity, and low rainfall but adequate supply of water are necessary for optimal yields. Tolerant of extreme temperatures, from -15°C to 52°C. It rarely produces well in the tropics. Propagation is by suckers.

Selected sources

  • Morton, J.F., 1987. Fruits of warm climates. Creative Resource Systems Inc., Winterville, N.C., USA. 503 pp.
  • Purseglove, J.W., 1975. Tropical Crops. Monocotyledons 1 & 2. Longman Group Limited, London. 607 pp.
  • Uhl, N.W. & Dransfield, J., 1987. Genera Palmarum. The L.H. Bailey Hortorium and the International Palm Society. Allen Press, Lawrence, Kansas, USA. 610 pp.


P.C.M. Jansen, J. Jukema, L.P.A. Oyen, T.G. van Lingen