Description: This genus is mostly medium to robust in size, but also includes a few dwarf species; trunks are solitary in four species, suckering and clumped in nine, of which one has a prostrate ground trunk. Many of the trunked species do not form above-ground stems for several years. The pinnate leaves, 1–6 m long, all share the common feature of metamorphosed lower-leaf segments into long, vicious spines (acanthophylls). The leaves have short or absent petioles and possess the rare feature among pinnate palms of induplicate (V-shaped) leaflets. The plants are dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants; pollination is by both wind and insect. The flowers are inconspicuous yellowish-brown and about 1 cm wide, but grouped on conspicuous large multibranched panicles 30–90 cm long. The inflorescence emerges from a usually boat-shaped, leathery bract, forming large, pendent clusters. Phoenix fruit develops from one carpel as a berry, 1–7 cm long, yellow to red-brown or dark purple when mature, with one elongated, deeply grooved seed.
Distribution: Native to an area starting from the Canary Islands in the west, across northern and central Africa, to the extreme southeast and southwest of Europe (Crete and Spain), and continuing throughout southern Asia from Turkey east to southern China and Malaysia.
Uses: Ornamental, edible dates