Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cretan Date Palm
Phoenix theophrasti

Family: Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Phoenix (FEE-niks) (Info)
Species: theophrasti (thee-oh-FRAS-tee) (Info)

7 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Gold (Yellow-Orange)

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year
Blooms repeatedly


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
This plant is fire-retardant
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 19 photos.
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5 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive NorthSC On Jan 30, 2014, NorthSC from North, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have over a dozen of these dudes (1-2 ft. OA) in pots outside exposed to all the elements and snow and they got hit by 12F-14F this BRUTAL winter, so they are half brown half green now, but kickin'. I'm planting them out in the open this spring.

Neutral donnacreation On Apr 11, 2012, donnacreation from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I love this palm, but I've been advised that it is only cold hardy to 15f here in the SE. Bummer!

Positive AlanYoung On Jan 5, 2007, AlanYoung from Hastings
United Kingdom wrote:

I have collected the drupes when on holiday in Crete, they are very easy to grow and I have plants aged from 2 to 5 years old, to 60cm tall. The plants are very robust and need little in the way of attention, I do however over-wintered them in the greenhouse, although with global warming this is becoming less of a problem in SE England. Pot on every year and if you have suitable soil (free draining) and climate you can plant outside an get a very elegant palm (to 10m, with a similar spread). The soil in crete is calcarious but I use a loam based compost mixed with gravel in which the plants thrive. In Crete you see quite old specimens in tiny pots outside local tavernas, which one can only assume have never been fed, yet look very healthy, very drought resistant.

Positive imcuban2 On Jan 1, 2007, imcuban2 from Chicago, IL wrote:

My wife got this as a gift from her brother its a 15 gallon about a month ago. It is still in the pot it came in and its pushed out a frond already just sitting out on the back porch in a sunny spot and its been kept dry and seen temps from 60 down to 12 degrees and there is not a hint of damage. This will be an interesting to see how it progresses this year. It seems to grow fast for a phoenix.

Positive Kylecawaza On Dec 23, 2004, Kylecawaza from Corte Madera, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

In Seattle these are susceptable to rot, so don't water them too much in winter, but in summer you can.

They have edible dates too.

Positive palmbob On Jun 17, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Probably THE original date palm from which Phoenix dactylifera, the edible date, was derived from. It is native to the coasts of Turkey and Crete and looks a lot like a date palm. The main differences is it has a bit more color in the spines and it much spinier, nastier palm (be very careful around this one)- every single leaf ends in a very sharp, stiff barb. In my opinion, this is one of the most dangerous palms there are.

The other difference I have noticed is this one is a super aggressive clumper- makes LOTS of suckers and is a constant chore (and a very dangerous one) to keep the suckers down to a minimum. Don't recommend leaving all the suckers or you will eventually have a massive, tightly spaced grove of deadly sharp, impenetrable palm trees. Very drought, wind and heat tolerant.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Murska Sobota,
Corte Madera, California
Los Angeles, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Chicago, Illinois
North, South Carolina

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