Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Why the Black Sphinx Date Palms of Phoenix will be gone forever

Hidden away in a little Phoenix neighborhood is a cluster of some of the most beautiful, and rare, palm trees in the world. They are called The Black Sphinx Palms, an unusual variety of Phoenix dactylifera. What makes them unusual and rare is the fruit, which is unique to this variety, but what makes them beautiful is what anyone can see in the neighborhood where they have been growing for over 70 years. And they are found nowhere else in the world.

I have visited this neighborhood several times and I can truly say that is well worth stopping to take a look. These giant beauties create a canopy that makes this neighborhood absolutely magical. A few blocks away, where the palms no longer stand majestically, the magic vanishes. These heirloom trees make this neighborhood, and it wouldn't be the same without them.

If you want to visit this neighborhood, go south on 44th Street just below Camelback and look for the biggest cluster of the biggest palm trees you have ever seen in your life. You can't miss it!

By the way, I am informed by a palm tree expert that you can't grow a Black Sphinx Date Palm from the seed of one of the fruits - you need to plant an offshoot, and trees this old don't produce any. When they're gone, they will be gone forever.

The Gilliland Groves in the 1940s, Phoenix, Arizona

1935 ad for Gilliland Groves Phoenix, Arizona. Note the drawing of Camelback Mountain.

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