MORPHOLOGICAL SYSTEMATICS OF DATE-PALM DIVERSITY (PHOENIX, ARECACEAE) IN WESTERN EUROPE AND SOME PRELIMINARY MOLECULAR RESULTS
In the Southeast of the Iberian Peninsula lies the largest traditional date-palm (Phoenix dactylifera) cultivation area, at the northern limit of this species in the western Mediterranean. Large palm groves extended traditionally around Elche, Orihuela, Albatera, and Abanilla with smaller groves scattered in wadis, ravines, or watered gardens from Almeria to Castellón. Around and within the city of Elche (Comunidad Valenciana) grow over 250,000 palm trees, belonging to different local cultivars. Most of them show morphological likeness to different north-African cultivars such as Medjool or Deglet Nour. However, the diversity is extremely high in terms of fruits, leaf shape and color, and stems, including minor local types. Furthermore, Phoenix iberica has been described as a wild species from the wadis near the sea. It has glaucous leaves, stout stems and small dates with thin flesh. It shows similarities to Medjool or Barhee cultivars in some vegetative characters, but its fruits are intermediate between those of Phoenix theophrastii and P. sylvestris. A group of cultivars well-known for its green leaves and small fruits, which normally ripen under the climate of SE Spain, has been described as Phoenix chevalierii. We are studying the diversity of date palms in Spain by nuclear microsatellite polymorphism, polymorphic ITS regions and chloroplast microsatellite patterns. Macro- and micro-morphological characters were studied using multivariate analysis techniques. Overall, these allow us to compare Phoenix dactylifera cultivars from Africa and the Near East, and related Phoenix species.
Rivera, D., Obón de Castro, C., Carreño, E., Inocencio, C., Alcaraz, F., Ríos, S., Palazón, J.A., Vázquez, L. and Laguna, E. (2008). MORPHOLOGICAL SYSTEMATICS OF DATE-PALM DIVERSITY (PHOENIX, ARECACEAE) IN WESTERN EUROPE AND SOME PRELIMINARY MOLECULAR RESULTS. Acta Hortic. 799, 97-104
biogeography, carpology, molecular markers, Phoenix, systematics