JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Those beautiful date palms you see around town are not only tasty and beautiful but can withstand some pretty hot temperatures thanks to a protective layer of wax.
As the summer heat builds one guaranteed plant that will survive is Phoenix dactylifera, the type of palm tree that produces delicious date fruit.
You can see a close species of this date palm growing along the sidewalk at the bandshell on Jacksonville Beach.
Scientists discovered the secret to this heat resistant tree is a thin layer of wax around the leaves that prevents them from drying out.
Waxy plants are known in hot climates but the chemical composition makes this palm tree special for tolerating extreme heat when other leaves wither.
The wax of P. dactylifera resisted melting up to 158 °F and wholly melted at a whopping 190 °F according to a study in the Journal of Experimental Botany.
Plants breathe in carbon dioxide by opening pores on the leaves called stomata and these shut tight to conserve moisture during in hot weather.
Palm date trees maintain enough moisture using this technique combined with a waxy cuticle to minimize water loss.