October, 2000 Palm of the Month:
Edible Date Palm: Phoenix dactylifera Medjool
Phoenix dactylifera, October's Winner of the Blue Ribbon Palm of the Month, brings my mind to a very different "mood", than does last month's winner: The Cuban Royal Palm! No, The true edible date palm, takes my mind right to the desert oasis! I see the pyramids among the date palms. I see dark-skinned, white-turbaned nomads & sturdy dromedary camels, hung heavy with leather pouches draped on each side of their muscular torsos brimming with many burnished-brown bunches of just-cut, sugary-sweet Medjool dates! The Medjool date is the "refugee" date palm, from The Old World!! It was the preferred date "candy" of Moroccan Royalty...transplanted here, in the U.S.' lower Colorado River Valley, so as to escape a fatal virus that plagued that part of the Mediterranean Basin, and threatened to make the Medjool Date, only a "sweet" memory in Morocco! The Phoenix dactylifera thrived here to the world's delight! It still IS the treat of Middle Eastern Royalty...now all, however, can enjoy the Medjool's succulent, almost "sinful" sugary decadence!
The date palm takes my mind, also, to Beverly Hills, Scottsdale, & Palm Springs! It seems synonymous with "new" desert oases, and decadent wealth! A palm needing precious water where rain is sparse. Indeed, the phoenix dactylifera drinks copious amounts of water (from rivers & springs, usually!) Its culture, can be from Zone 8 to 11, but the date palm will develop fruit only reliably where its roots have an unending supply of fresh water, and the air's relative humidity is literally, desert-dry! The phoenix is hardy to -10 C., or about 21 degrees F.
Its foliage is always distinctive! Blue-green and upright! Rows of Edible Date Palm trees look "royal" & elegant; they are an entirely formal tree! Nothing frowsy about the landscape which might include Phoenix dactylifera Medjool specimens! The Wise Gardener thinks that they are really best-looking out West! In Florida, on the Gulf Coast & in Queensland, AU, the Edible Date Palm Medjool looks a bit stressed by the high humidity.They "seem" to be doing "OK" in these humid environs, but I don't think that they really are too very happy!
I think that the Phoenix dactylifera Medjool really wants to be where it "feels" like it's back home! It wants to think that it is back with the camels & Bedouins & sands of the Moroccan Desert! The Arizona & California deserts are the environments probably the most like Morocco, as far as this date tree is concerned! The Phoenix dactylifera Medjool very much deserves October's Blue Ribbon Palm of the Month Award! This palm, as you can probably tell by my prose, has "moved" me significantly, as I have been privileged to "come to know them" much more intimately! They are beautiful & historically important trees, with fruit that is truly ambrosial!
Paul, "The Wise Gardener! "