Moderate Cold Hardy Traits In Date Palms And Fan Palms
The Canary Island Date palm, Phoenix canariensis, is one of the most sought after and spectacular palm trees seen in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Lower Texas, and coastal South Carolina. This large, formal palm tree, looks great when grown next to Mediterranean architectural structures at resorts and hotels, such as the Cloister Hotel, at Sea Island, Georgia, where the large Canary Island Date palms are planted and grown at the entrances to the hotels, and stretching up the boulevards as a street tree along Sea Island Drive. These Canary Island Date palms produce dates, but barely palatable; are very slow growing, and the unique triangular leaf scars are very ornamental. You can buy Canary Island Date palms in large specimen sizes that are extremely expensive, but small trees are reasonably priced at most nurseries.
Other Phoenix Date Palm trees that show moderate cold hardy traits are the standard Biblical Date palms, Phoenix dactylifera; the celebrated plant of the Scriptures of the Hebrew Bible, documented thousands of years ago in Deuteronomy 8:8, "A land (Israel) of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees, and pomegranates, a land of olive oil, and dates (palms)." A huge grove of these large date palms grow outside Yuma, Az, where the date products are harvested seasonally from the trees with tall ladders, as they have been for decades past.
The Wild Date palm, Phoenix sylvestris, called the Sylvester palm, is not a fast growing date palm tree, but the blue-green foliage forms a large canopy of leaves that persists for years. The wild, large date palm tree, Phoenix sylvestris, can grow to 40 feet, but the trunk is slender, and this wild date palm will readily hybridize with other date palms growing nearby. You can buy large specimens of wild, date palm trees that are very expensive, but smaller trees can be purchased at reasonable prices. This palm tree has also been called a Toddy palm, because the sweet dates are harvested and fermented into an alcoholic drink, a Toddy.
The Chinese Fan Palm, Livistona chinensis, is a well adapted tree to large areas of the South. The huge leaves are fan shaped (palmate), and not fast growing, but the large heavy leaves give a weeping appearance. You can buy these Chinese fan trees cheap, but almost any nursery sells them, and they can survive cold hardy temperatures, around 20 F.
Mexican Fan Palm Tree, Washingtonia robusta, is also called the Washington Palm Tree, and grows faster than most other cold hardy Palm Trees. The fan shaped, bright green leaves are large, growing 6 feet long. Mature Washington Palm trees can grow 100 feet tall, and small Washington Palm Trees are so fast growing and inexpensive to buy, many people are planting them. Large Washington palm trees planted in front of motels at Waycross, Georgia, have survived extreme cold winters, and even when leaf canopies were frozen and black, the new shoots grew back in the Spring to renew their beauty.
The European Fan Palm, Chamaerops humilis, also called the Mediterranean Fan Palm, is a beautiful cluster palm; a favorite palm tree planted abundantly at the Cloister Hotel, at Sea Island, Georgia. The European Palm Tree forms multiple, daughter, closely connected, palm trees that were planted and grown as circular groups, although if the daughter palm trees are removed after the trunks grow to 3 - 4 feet, single trunked specimens can be grown in the landscape. The leaves are very variable in color, from green to silver. This very delicately leaved plant is controlled by a graceful, slender trunk, that is embedded with long brown fibers. In Mediterranean areas, the European Palm tree is often grown as a street tree, planted in large containers. Its slow growing character makes the European palm tree well adapted for planting in pots.