Phoenix sylvestris

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Phoenix sylvestris
Wild Date Palm (Phoenix sylvestris) tree at Purbasthali W IMG 1494.jpg
At Purbasthali in Bardhaman District of West Bengal, India.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Phoenix
Species: P. sylvestris
Binomial name
Phoenix sylvestris
(L.) Roxb., 1832

Phoenix sylvestris (sylvestris - Latin, of the forest) also known as silver date palm, sugar date palm or wild date palm, is a species of flowering plant in the palm family native to southern Pakistan, most of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and Bangladesh. It is also reportedly naturalized in Mauritius, the Chagos Arhipelago, Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands.[1]

Preparing to collect sap at Jessore, Bangladesh

Growing in plains and scrubland to 1300 m, the fruit from this palm species is used to make wine and jelly. The sap is tapped and drunk fresh or fermented into toddy. The fresh sap is boiled to make palm jaggery in West Bengal state of India and Bangladesh.

The plant is known as "wal Indi", "val Indi",(වල්ඉංදි ) by Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka. The word `Phoenix in the Latin name came from Greek and means "purple". while Sylvestris means "wild". The leaves may be used for making mats, bags etc. The tree is tapped to make a toddy or palm wine.


Phoenix sylvestris ranges from 4 to 15 m in height and 40 cm in diameter; not as large as the Canary Island Date Palm, but nearly so, and resembling it. The leaves are 3 m long, gently recurved, on 1 m petioles with acanthophylls near the base. The leaf crown grows to 10 m wide and 7.5 to 10 m tall containing up to 100 leaves. The inflorescence grows to 1 metre with white, unisexual flowers forming to a large, pendent infructescence. The single-seeded fruit ripens to a purple-red colour.[2]


  • Origin: India
  • Hardiness Zone: 8B-11
  • Growth Rate: Slow to moderate
  • Survival Temperature: 22 °F/-5.5 °C
  • Salt Tolerance: Moderate to high
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Soil Requirements: Widely adaptable
  • Light Requirements: High
  • Nutritional Requirements: Moderate
  • Uses: Specimen tree
  • Major Pest Problems: None
  • Trunk or Stem Characteristics: Robust, with diamond a skirt of aerial roots at base and persistent leaf bases above.
  • Leaf Type: Pinnately compound, induplicate; lower leaflets modified into spines; 200 - 250 leaflets arranged in groups of 2 or 3, often cross-crossing. Canopy of 100 leaves 9–12 feet long.
  • Foliage Color: Blue-green Leaf Size: 9-12’ long; leaflets .5-1.5’ long, 1” wide Petiole: 3’ long, armed with leaflets spines.
  • Crown-shaft: None
  • Inflorescence: 2-3” long, much branched, borne from among the leaves
  • Gender: Separate male and female plants
  • Tree Height: Usually up to 40 feet[3]
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Danger: Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling
  • Bloom time: Late Spring/Early Summer
  • Bloom color: Cream/Tan
  • Propagation Methods: From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel & From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium
  • Seed collecting: Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

  • Soil pH requirements: 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) ;6.6 to 7.5 (neutral) ;7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)



  1. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Phoenix sylvestris
  2. ^ Riffle, Robert L. and Craft, Paul (2003) An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms. Portland: Timber Press. (Pages 405-406) ISBN 0-88192-558-6 / ISBN 978-0-88192-558-6
  3. ^

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