A Turkish Date Palm

by Marc Scholtes, Landgraaf, The Netherlands
Chamaerops No. 43-44, published online 05-08-2002

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About 17 years ago I visited the Canary Islands and brought some seeds back to Holland. They were Washingtonia filifera, Phoenix canariensis, and Dracaena draco, the dragon tree. Those little seeds grew into little plants, and that's how I got interested in palm trees. I tried to get more palms, but at that time the only palms you could get in Holland were the Canary Island Date Palm, Chamaerops humilis, and some Chamaedora.

In 1995 I saw Martin Gibbons on "Gardeners World" talking about palm trees that were maybe hardy enough for an English garden. I wrote a letter to BBC, and they gave me the address of Catalyst Television, which, in turn, gave me the address of Martin's nursery. Now I could buy my first Trachycarpus fortunei, and in the coming years my collection increased to about 27 different palms.

But that is not why I am writing this article. Last year we went on holiday in Turkey. It was a long ride from the airfield at Dalaman to Marmaris on the west coast where our hotel was. During the ride from the airport I saw a lot of plants you can only grow in pots at home, such as bougainvillea and Oleander and others. There were several fields with mostly Washingtonia filifera and some fields where Phoenix palms grew. Most of the hotels used the Canary Island Date Palm in their gardens, though in some places I saw Phoenix dactylifera, and I think I saw some Phoenix theophrastii as well, although those probably were there before the hotels were built.

We visited the town Içmeler and in front of a café called Anne an unusual palm was growing at the beginning of the sidewalk. This one, I think, was a Phoenix dactylifera. It had no trunk coming out of the base but had branches about 2 m high. One was developed quite well and two others had just started to sprout. The owner of the café, a German who had lived in Içmeler for 30 years, told me that the fruit from this palm would be ripe in a few weeks and that it tasted very good. He told me that 30 years ago when he visited Içmeler for the first time there were only two hotels and a lot of palms growing on the beach. Every time a new hotel was built some palms disappeared, which were later replaced by other palms. He said that it was a pity that only a few of the big palms were left on the beach. In the old town, however, you could find some old palms that were there when he came to Içmeler the first time. I took some pictures of this, for me, unusual palm so I could send them to the EPS. The last day of our holiday we went back to Içmeler to drink some of the good coffee they served at café Anne, and to ask if I could take two seeds back with me so I could try to geminate them.

We went home with the seeds that unfortunately did not germinate because they were not ripe. Still interested, I looked in Palms of the World and learned that Phoenix dactylifera could have branches, so I had not seen something unusual. I searched in books and articles on the Internet for a picture of a dactylifera with branches but could not find one, and that's why I decided to write this article, so others could see this still seemingly strange palm.

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