Canary Island date palm
Palm Drive got its palms in 1893 at the suggestion of university president David Starr Jordan. P. canariensis trees originally alternated with Washingtonia filifera; eventually the fan palms were eliminated. There are now 166 palms lining the entry road.
The sawn-off leaf stubs that give the trunks their characteristic appearance are homes to birds and a variety of seeds that germinate in the collected litter. I noted two live oaks, one Atlas cedar, a blackberry, an ash, and five daughters growing in comfortable pockets of the Canary Island palm between Braun Music Center and Muwekma-tah-ruk (543 Lasuen Mall).
As with pine cones and pineapples, the diamond network on the trunk of the palm is not symmetrical; there are eight columns running down to the left and 13 running more steeply down to the right. This is the phenomenon discussed under Pine Cones and Fibonacci Numbers.
Isolated specimens are abundant, for example at the entrance of Thermosciences (Building 500). Seedlings volunteer freely from date pits disseminated by birds and rodents, and if there is no objection to the site, they have been allowed to live.
It is possible to transplant these palms even when they are very large. In 1981, many gaps that had occurred in Palm Drive were filled with large trees instead of being replaced by young plants. Opportunities were taken to rescue old palms that had become unwanted elsewhere. For example, two 50-foot specimens were transplanted from 532 Channing Avenue, Palo Alto.
The name Phoenix comes from Phoenicia, a section of the east Mediterranean coast. The Phoenicians, who were Canaanites, adopted a seafaring life and acquired a ruddy weather-beaten complexion that earned them their name, phoinikos (meaning “red” in Greek).
Name derivation: Phoenix – The Greek name for the date palm (details in text above); canariensis – of the Canary Islands
About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.