A versatile and important palm from the cradle of human civilization, the date palm has provided a critical food source for thousands of years, its leaf, stalk and stem utilized for thatching, roofing and posts. Rows of these trees dotted the Palm Desert and Indio area and were agriculturally significant, especially when cheaper imported dates were unavailable. In the 1950s, the agriculture importance of these trees faded and many thousands were dug up to make way for subdivisions or to fill the landscaping demands of malls, roadways and commercial developments. The date palm's resurgence in subsequent years can be seen in groves that now extend along the Coachella Valley southward to the Salton Sea.
The P. dactylifea shares many features in a reduced form with its imposing Phoenix canariensis cousin. By comparison, the dactylifea is a cleaner tree typically seen with mostly upright fronds, in part because its smaller aspect is easier to maintain. Growing to a height of 70 feet, this palm has long feathery leaves with hundreds of thin, foot long, pointed leaflets. The manicured leaf bases form an attractive diamond pattern on the trunk and take on a molded or sculpted appearance. Many examples can be seen in the recently installed improvements along Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point, CA.