T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Phoenix canariensis (Phoenix palm)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Monocots
(Unranked): Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Phoenix
Species: P. canariensis
Binomial name: Phoenix canariensis
Common name: Canary Island date palm, Pineapple palm, Palmera canaria

Phoenix canariensis is a large species of palm which native to the Canary Islands. Its trunk is thick and up to 6 m tall with a diameter of 45-60 cm and is covered by large, closely packed leaf-scars.
The pinnate leaves are dark green, long and arch outwards from the terminal crown, segments very numerous, narrow, strongly keeled, and sharply pointed. The leaves are 4–6 m long, with 80–100 leaflets on each side of the central rachis.
The fruit is an oval, orange-yellow drupe 2 cm long and 1 cm diameter and containing a single large seed; the fruit pulp is edible but too thin to be worth eating.
The Canary Island date palm is very widely planted as an ornamental plant in warm temperate regions of the world, particularly in areas with Mediterranean climates. It can be cultivated where temperatures never fall below -10/-12 °C for extended periods, although it will require some protection if cold periods are longer than normal. It is a slowly growing tree, exclusively propagated by seed.
In the Canary Islands, the sap of this date palm is used to make palm syrup and the different parts of the palm are used in a number of ways. La Gomera is where most of the sap is produced in the Canary Islands.

In some Mediterranean and subtropical countries, P. canariensis has proven to be an invasive plant. In New Zealand, it has invaded a range of habitats. New Zealand's Landcare Research has classified the palm as a 'sleeper weed' - "a plant that spreads slowly and goes unnoticed until it becomes widespread". In Auckland, New Zealand, the palm has itself become a host for the naturalised Australian strangler fig, Ficus macrophylla.

Beware of the palm's fronds which have poisonous hard, needle-thin spikes, which can exceed 10cm in length. These spikes contain chemicals which cause inflammation and swelling. The study doctors noted that residual fragments in such injuries were notoriously difficult to detect. Some plant shops and councils are discouraging the planting of the palms because of these spikes. 
Here is a report on a poisoning. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=137712


The drupes. Photographed in March.

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/