This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

The historic palm trees of Sahuaro Ranch, Glendale, Arizona


The Sahuaro Ranch (yes, it's been misspelled that way for over 100 years), which is between 59th Avenue and 63rd Avenue and Peoria and Olive (south of the Glendale Main Library and north of Glendale Community College) in Glendale, Arizona has a lot of amazing historic palm trees.

If you live in Phoenix, you see palm trees all of the time, and it you may be wondering what I'm talking about. Come to the ranch with me, and let's look up.

Most of the palm trees around Phoenix, which are commonly called Mexican Fan palms (Washingtonia robusta), come from Sonora and Baja California. They grow very quickly, and are the ones that you see along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. And because they grow very quickly, they became much more popular after the 1920s. The ones in the photo at the top of this post aren't fan palms, they're date palms. And the difference is in the structure of the leaves.

A date palm has leaves that I like to describe as looking like a feather duster. A fan palm, as the name implies, has leaves that look more like a fan. Since I prefer the look of a date palm to a fan palm, I have a tendency to describe fan palms as looking kind of like toilet bowl brushes. Once you see it, you'll know what I mean.

Date palms are from the Middle East - they're the ones that grow in the desert in areas that can get precious little water - you know, in an oasis, surrounded by sand. And once you can see the difference between a fan palm and date palm, then you'll be impressed at how amazingly tall the date palms at Sahuaro Ranch are. I really don't know how old they are, but since they grow slower than common fan palms, date palms that are that tall are pretty darned old.

By the way, the date palms at Sahuaro Ranch were actually planted to produce dates, not to just look nice. There were several places around the valley where date palms were planted for crops, the most notable one being the Black Sphinx Palms at 44th Street and Camelback. The date palms that you see being planted nowadays are dateless (like seedless watermelons) because the fruit is messy when it falls. This is the reason that date palms weren't planted much in the 20th Century, and why they're making a comeback.

This cluster of palms is on the east side of the historic houses. If you enter from 59th Avenue there's a parking lot area that very few people use. The tree that I'm leaning on is a date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) and since I'm about six feet tall, the tree is, uh (I'm not very good at math), really, really tall.

Thank you for visiting the ranch with me!


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