Overview

Brief Summary

Phoenix dactylifera, the date palm, is a monocot plant in the Arecaceae family, cultivated in dry tropical regions worldwide for its edible sweet fruit. Its native range is difficult to ascertain, because it has been spread through cultivation for thousands of years, and no longer occurs in the wild, but it is generally considered to have originated in region around the Persian gulf—northern Africa, the Arabian peninsula, and northwest India.

Dates have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia and Babylonia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE. The Ancient Egyptians used the fruits to make into date wine, and ate them at harvest. There is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in eastern Arabia in 6000 BCE. Dates were important as a food (easily stored and transported), a source of building material (the fronds provided fiber for thatching roofs and making baskets, trunks are used for construction), and for making a fermented beverage referred to in cuneiform inscriptions as “The Drink of Life.”

Date palms are medium-sized, growing singly or forming a clump with several stems from a single root system. Although treelike in form, they do not grow woody tissue, but are able to support themselves with fibrous, stout, overlapping stems, and may grow to 15–25 m tall (50–80 feet). Leaves are 3–5 m long, with spines on the petiole, and pinnately compound, with about 150 leaflets; leaflets are 30 cm (~12 inches) long and 2 cm wide. They are wind-pollinated and dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants), but in commercial production, they are often hand-pollinated for better fruit production, and propagated by cuttings, to minimize the number of male (non-fruiting) trees.

The fruits (known as dates, from the Greek for “finger”) are oval-cylindrical, 3–7 cm long, and 2–3 cm diameter, with a single seed about 2–2.5 cm long and 6–8 mm thick. Three main cultivar groups of date exist: soft (e.g., Medjool), semi-dry (e.g., Deglet Noor), and dry (e.g., Thoory), with numerous varieties in each group, as well as hybrids with other Phoenix species.

Dates, high in sugars and potassium, are eaten fresh or used in prepared foods and desserts, with important regional dishes in the Middle East and India, as well as used in holiday fruitcakes in the U.S. and Europe. In addition to the edible fruits, seeds can be ground into an edible flour, traditionally used to make bread in times of scarcity. The flowers are also edible, used in salads or dried and ground as a condiment. Dates are added to animal feed or fed directly to animals in the Sahara.

Dates are mentioned in the Bible and the Koran, and important in Indian mythology. They have various traditional medicinal uses, including to treat sore throats, colds, and coughs. They are an important crop in tropical areas, with 2009 global production of 7.5 billion metric tons; top producers were Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Their cultural importance is the subject of a feature-length film, Feast of Dates (preview in this YouTube clip).

(Ellison 2001, Morton 1987, Popenoe 1973, Wikipedia 2011)

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Comprehensive Description

Description

A dioecious palm tree with rounded trunk, covered with old-leaf bases. Crown is formed of 25 pinnate stiff leaves or more leaves carried by an armed petiole with acanthophylls (spines). Leaflets are stiff, sharply pointed and arranged on each side of the rhachis. Male inflorescence pedunculate; the male flower has a calyx and very small pistillode. Female inflorescence is similar to the male, but growing into large fruit-bearing structure after anthesis; female flowers are globose, with circular petals. Fruit is variable in shape, yellow, red, orange-brown to brownish-black, with fleshy, sweet, thick, or thinner dry mesocarp, and a longitudinally furrowed seed.

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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Nativa de Africa Tropical y Asia en zonas secas y cálidas, ampliamente cultivada. Cultivada en tierras bajas y valles, para producción de frutos en Bolivia, en los Departamentos de Tarija, Cochabamba y en el sureste de Santa Cruz, entre otras zonas.

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Distribution in Egypt

Nile region, Oases, Mediterranean region, Res Sea coastal strip, Gebel Elba, Sinai (St.Katherine) and Egyptian desert.

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Global Distribution

Native country unknown, possibly the oases of the Sahara, widely cultivated in the Middle East and dry regions of Africa, introduced into California, Queensland, Australia and elsewhere.

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Distribution: Probably native to W. Asia and N. Africa. Widely domesticated in Punjab and Sind and also cultivated for their valuable fruits in lower Baluchistan and N.W.F.P.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Solitary tree, 30 m or more, suckers producing offsets (frequently removed) and roots present at base. Crown large, open, leaves larger than Phoenix sylvestris, glabrous, 1-5.1 m long, leaflet in many planes, 20-40 x 2-2.5 cm; pinnae strongly keeled; apex hard, spiny. Lower leaflets transformed into spines, 4-ranked or the upper ones 2-ranked, 10-20 cm long, apex yellowish. Inflorescence covered by a hard, boat-like bract. Female inflorescence 90-120 cm long, main stalk flat, 45-75 cm long, glabrous, rachilla 30 cm or so long, spikelets numerous. Flowers rounded, green, distant. Calyx lobes 3, united at the base, forming a cup-like structure, upper portion thin and translucent, lower one hard, greenish. Sepals c. 4 x 2 mm, petals more than two times larger than the sepals, rounded. Male inflorescence much smaller, 12-25 cm long, sometimes larger, main stalk 60-90 cm long, flat, glabrous, rachilla arises from and near the apex of the main stalk. Flowers sessile, white, sweet-scented, much larger than the female flower, stamens 6, c. 4 mm long, anthers erect, filaments short, subulate; pistillodes minute, three, scale-like. Petals 3-lobed, valvate, 7-8 mm long; sepals 3-lobed, much smaller than the petals, united, forming a cup. Fruit cylindric, 2.5-5.0 x 1-1.5 cm broad, edible, fleshy, yellowish-brown to reddish brown. Seeds stony, acute at the apex, longitudinally grooved from one side.
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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Se tiene feferencia de algunos cultivos en tierras bajas y valles.

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Associations

Foodplant / spot causer
Graphiola phoenicis causes spots on live, scabbed leaf of Phoenix dactylifera
Other: major host/prey

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Phoenix dactylifera

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Phoenix dactylifera

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 75
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: Fruit

Comments: En Bolivia se la cultiva para la producción de frutos.

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Wikipedia

Date palm

Phoenix dactylifera (date[1] or date palm[1]) is a flowering plant species in the palm family Arecaceae, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around Iraq.[2] The species is widely cultivated and is reportedly naturalized in Australia, Spain, North Africa, the Canary Islands, Madeira, Cape Verde, the Sahel region of Africa, Mauritius, Réunion, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Israel, Iran, China, (Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan), Fiji, New Caledonia, the United States (California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Puerto Rico), northern Mexico, El Salvador, the Leeward Islands, the Cayman Islands, and the Dominican Republic.[3][4][5]

Phoenix dactylifera grows 70–75 feet (21–23 m) in height,[6] growing singly or forming a clump with several stems from a single root system. The leaves are 4–6 metres (13–20 ft) long, with spines on the petiole, and pinnate, with about 150 leaflets; the leaflets are 30 cm (12 in) long and 2 cm (0.79 in) wide. The full span of the crown ranges from 6–10 m (20–33 ft).

Dates contain 20–70 calories each, depending on size and variety.

Etymology[edit]

The species name dactylifera "date-bearing" comes from Ancient Greek dáktulos "date" (also "finger")[7] and the stem of the Greek verb ferō "I bear".[8]

History of dates[edit]

Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East and the Indus Valley for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around Iraq, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE. The Ancient Egyptians used the fruits to make date wine, and ate them at harvest. There is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in eastern Arabia in 6000 BCE. (Alvarez-Mon 2006).[full citation needed]

There is also archeological evidence of date cultivation in Mehrgarh around 7000 BCE, a Neolithic civilization in what is now western Pakistan. Evidence of cultivation is continually found throughout later civilizations in the Indus Valley, including the Harappan period 2600 to 1900 BCE.[9][page needed]

In later times, traders spread dates around South West Asia, northern Africa, and Spain. Dates were introduced into Mexico and California by the Spaniards in 1765, around Mission San Ignacio.

A date palm cultivar, known as Judean date palm is renowned for its long-lived orthodox seed, which successfully sprouted after accidental storage for 2000 years.[10] This particular seed is presently reputed to be the oldest viable seed but the upper survival time limit of properly stored seeds remains unknown.[11]

Fossil records show that the date palm has existed for at least 50 million years.[12]

Dates[edit]

Dates
Worldwide date yield
Young date palm
Fresh dates, clockwise from top right: crunchy, crunchy opened, soft out of skin, soft.

The fruit is known as a date.[13] The fruit's English name (through Old French), as well as the Latin species name dactylifera, both come from the Greek word for "finger", dáktulos, because of the fruit's elongated shape. Dates are oval-cylindrical, 3–7 cm long, and 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) diameter, and when ripe, range from bright red to bright yellow in colour, depending on variety. Dates contain a single stone about 2–2.5 cm (0.79–0.98 in) long and 6–8 mm (0.24–0.31 in) thick. Three main cultivar groups of date exist: soft (e.g. 'Barhee', 'Halawy', 'Khadrawy', 'Medjool'), semi-dry (e.g. 'Dayri', 'Deglet Noor', 'Zahdi'), and dry (e.g. 'Thoory'). The type of fruit depends on the glucose, fructose and sucrose content.

The date palm is dioecious, having separate male and female plants. They can be easily grown from seed, but only 50 percent of seedlings will be female and hence fruit bearing, and dates from seedling plants are often smaller and of poorer quality. Most commercial plantations thus use cuttings of heavily cropping cultivars. Plants grown from cuttings will fruit 2–3 years earlier than seedling plants.

Dates are naturally wind pollinated but in both traditional oasis horticulture and in the modern commercial orchards they are entirely pollinated manually. Natural pollination occurs with about an equal number of male and female plants. However, with assistance, one male can pollinate up to 100 females. Since the males are of value only as pollinators, this allows the growers to use their resources for many more fruit producing female plants. Some growers do not even maintain any male plants as male flowers become available at local markets at pollination time. Manual pollination is done by skilled labourers on ladders. In some areas such as Iraq the pollinator climbs the tree using a special climbing tool that wraps around the tree trunk and the climber's back to keep him attached to the trunk while climbing. Less often the pollen may be blown onto the female flowers by a wind machine.

Parthenocarpic cultivars are available but the seedless fruit is smaller and of lower quality.[citation needed]

Dates ripen in four stages, which are known throughout the world by their Arabic names kimri (unripe), khlal (full-size, crunchy), rutab (ripe, soft), tamr (ripe, sun-dried).

Dates are an important traditional crop in Iraq, Arabia, and north Africa west to Morocco. Dates are also mentioned more than 50 times in the Bible and 20 times in the Qur'an. In Islamic culture, dates and yogurt or milk are traditionally the first foods consumed for Iftar after the sun has set during Ramadan. Dates (especially Medjool and Deglet Noor) are also cultivated in America in southern California, Arizona and southern Florida in the United States and in Sonora and Baja California in Mexico.

Date palms can take 4 to 8 years after planting before they will bear fruit, and produce viable yields for commercial harvest between 7 to 10 years. Mature date palms can produce 68 to 176 kilograms (150[14] to 300[15] lb) of dates per harvest season, although they do not all ripen at the same time so several harvests are required. In order to get fruit of marketable quality, the bunches of dates must be thinned and bagged or covered before ripening so that the remaining fruits grow larger and are protected from weather and pests such as birds.

Cultivars[edit]

Date palm orchard, Boumalne, Morocco
Dates in the souq in Sayada
Date farm in Medina.

A large number of date cultivars are grown. The most important are:

  • Aabel — common in Libya.
  • Ajwah — from the town of Medina in Saudi Arabia, it is the subject of a famous Hadith.
  • Al-Khunaizi — from the town of Qatif in Saudi Arabia.
  • Amir Hajj or Amer Hajj — from Iraq, these are soft with a thin skin and thick flesh, sometimes called "the visitor's date" because it is a delicacy served to guests.
  • ʿAbid Rahim (Arabic: عبد رحيم‎) — from Sudan. In Nigeria it is called Dabino and is commonly used by Nigerian Muslims to break their Ramadan fast.
  • Barakawi (Arabic: بركاوي‎) — from Sudan.
  • Barhee or barhi (from Arabic barh, meaning "a hot wind") — these are nearly spherical, light amber to dark brown when ripe; soft, with thick flesh and rich flavour. One of the few varieties that are good in the khalal stage when they are yellow (like a fresh grape as opposed to dry, like a raisin).
  • Bireir (Arabic: برير‎) — from Sudan.
  • Dabbas — from United Arab Emirates.
  • Datça — in Turkey
  • Deglet Noor (Tunisian Arabic: دڨلة نور — so named because the centre appears light or golden when held up to the sun. This is a leading date in Libya, Algeria, the U.S., and Tunisia, in the latter it is grown in inland oases and is the chief export cultivar. Its texture is semi-dry and is not very sweet.
  • Derrie or Dayri (the "Monastery" date) — from southern Iraq — these are long, slender, nearly black, and soft.
  • Empress — developed by the DaVall family in Indio, California, United States, from a seedling of Thoory. It is large, and is softer and sweeter than Thoory. It generally has a light tan top half and brown bottom half.
  • Fardh or Fard — common in Oman, deep dark brown, tender skin, sweet flavor, small seed. Keeps well when well packed.
  • Ftimi or Alligue — these are grown in inland oases of Tunisia.
  • Holwah (Halawi) (Arabic for sweet) — these are soft, and extremely sweet, small to medium in size.
  • Haleema — in Hoon, Libya (Haleema is a woman's name).
  • Hayany (Hayani) — from Egypt ("Hayany" is a man's name) — these dates are dark-red to nearly black and soft.
  • Honey — unknown
  • Iteema — common in Algeria.
  • Kenta — common in Tunisia.
Khadrawi date
Medjool date
  • Khadrawi or Khadrawy (Arabic: 'green') — a cultivar favoured by many Arabs, it is a soft, very dark date.
  • Khalasah (Arabic for quintessence) — one of the most famous palm cultivars in Saudi Arabia, famous for its sweetness level that is not high nor low, thus, suits most people. Its fruit is called Khlas. Its famous place is Hofuf (Al-Ahsa) and Qatif in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia (ash-Sharqīyah).
  • Khastawi (Khusatawi, Kustawy) — this is the leading soft date in Iraq; it is syrupy and small in size, prized for dessert.
  • Khenaizi — from United Arab Emirates.
  • Lulu — from United Arab Emirates.
  • Maktoom (Arabic for hidden) — this is a large, red-brown, thick-skinned, soft, medium-sweet date.
  • Manakbir — a large fruit that ripens early.
  • Medjool or (Mejhool) (Arabic: مجهول‎ "unknown") — from Morocco, also grown in the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Palestinian Territories; a large, sweet and succulent date.
  • Migraf (Mejraf) — very popular in Southern Yemen, these are large, golden-amber dates.
  • Mgmaget Ayuob — from Hun, Libya.
  • Mishriq (Arabic: مشرق‎ "east") — from Sudan and Saudi Arabia.
  • Mozafati — (Persian "Suburban/Peripheral)" from Iran, where it is mainly grown in Kerman province, and often named "Bam date", after the city of Bam in that province. It is a dark, soft and sweet date of medium size. It is exceptionally well-suited for fresh consumption, because of its long shelf life. At a temperature of −5 degrees Celsius (23 °F) it can be kept for up to 2 years.[16]
  • Nabtat-seyf — in Saudi Arabia.
  • Rotab — from Iran, they are dark and soft.
  • Sag‘ai — from Saudi Arabia.
  • Saidy (Saidi) — soft, very sweet, these are popular in Libya.
  • Sayer (Sayir) (Arabic for common) — these dates are dark orange-brown, of medium size, soft and syrupy.
  • Sukkary — (lit. sugary) (Arabic: سكري) Dark brown skin; distinctly sweet and soft flesh, from Saudi Arabia (Qassim), it is the most expensive kind.
  • Sellaj — (Arabic: سلّج‎) in Saudi Arabia.
  • Tagyat — common in Libya.
  • Tamej — in Libya.
  • Thoory (Thuri) — popular in Algeria, this dry date is brown-red when cured with a bluish bloom and very wrinkled skin. Its flesh is sometimes hard and brittle but the flavour described as sweet and nutty.
  • Umeljwary — in Libya.
  • Umelkhashab — Brilliant red skin; bittersweet, hard white flesh (Saudi Arabia).
  • Zahidi (Arabic for [Of the] ascetic) — these medium size, cylindrical, light golden-brown semi-dry dates are very sugary, and sold as soft, medium-hard and hard.
  • Zaghloul (Arabic: زغلول‎) — Dark red skin, long, and very crunchy when fresh (when they are typically served); extremely sweet, with sugar content creating a sense of desiccation in the mouth when eaten. The variety is essentially exclusive to Egypt, where it is subject to an element of nationalist sentiment on account of sharing a name with national hero Saad Zaghloul.

The Gaza Strip, especially Deir al-Balah ("Village of Dates"), is known for its exceptionally sweet red dates. There are more than 100 known cultivars in Iraq.[clarification needed] It should be noted, however, that a cultivar can have several names depending on the locality.

Production[edit]

Date seller in the old souq in Kuwait City
Date City in Buraidah
Date output in 2012
Top ten date producers — 2012
(1000 metric tonnes)
 Egypt1470
 Iran1066
 Saudi Arabia1050
 Algeria789
 Iraq650
 Pakistan600
 Oman270
 United Arab Emirates250
 Tunisia190
 Libya170
Source:
UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
[17]

Fruit food uses[edit]

Dry or soft dates are eaten out-of-hand, or may be pitted and stuffed with fillings such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, candied orange and lemon peel, tahini, marzipan or cream cheese. Pitted dates are also referred to as stoned dates. Partially dried pitted dates may be glazed with glucose syrup for use as a snack food. Dates can also be chopped and used in a range of sweet and savory dishes, from tajines (tagines) in Morocco to puddings, ka'ak (types of Arab cookies) and other dessert items. Date nut bread, a type of cake, is very popular in the United States, especially around holidays. Dates are also processed into cubes, paste called "'ajwa", spread, date syrup or "honey" called "dibs" or "rub" in Libya, powder (date sugar), vinegar or alcohol. Vinegar made from dates is a traditional product of the Middle East.[18][19] Recent innovations include chocolate-covered dates and products such as sparkling date juice, used in some Islamic countries as a non-alcoholic version of champagne, for special occasions and religious times such as Ramadan. When Muslims break fast in the evening meal of Ramadan, it is traditional to eat a date first.

Dates can also be dehydrated, ground and mixed with grain to form a nutritious stockfeed. Dried dates are fed to camels, horses and dogs in the Sahara. In northern Nigeria, dates and peppers added to the native beer are believed to make it less intoxicating.

In Southeast Spain (where a large date plantation exists including UNESCO protected Palmeral of Elche) dates (usually pitted with fried almond) are served wrapped in bacon and shallow fried.

In Israel date syrup is used while cooking chicken and also for sweet and desserts.

It is also used to make Jallab.

Nutritional value[edit]

Dates, Deglet Noor
Dattes deglet from Biskra.jpg
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,178 kJ (282 kcal)
75.03 g
Sugars63.35 g
Dietary fiber8 g
0.39 g
2.45 g
Vitamins
Vitamin A equiv.
(0%)
6 μg
75 μg
Vitamin A10 IU
Thiamine (B1)
(5%)
0.052 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
(6%)
0.066 mg
Niacin (B3)
(8%)
1.274 mg
(12%)
0.589 mg
Vitamin B6
(13%)
0.165 mg
Folate (B9)
(5%)
19 μg
Vitamin C
(0%)
0.4 mg
Vitamin E
(0%)
0.05 mg
Vitamin K
(3%)
2.7 μg
Trace metals
Calcium
(4%)
39 mg
Iron
(8%)
1.02 mg
Magnesium
(12%)
43 mg
Manganese
(12%)
0.262 mg
Phosphorus
(9%)
62 mg
Potassium
(14%)
656 mg
Sodium
(0%)
2 mg
Zinc
(3%)
0.29 mg
Other constituents
Water20.53 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Dates provide a wide range of essential nutrients, and are a very good source of dietary potassium. The sugar content of ripe dates is about 80%; the remainder consists of protein, fiber, and trace elements including boron, cobalt, copper, fluorine, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc.[20] The glycemic index for three different varieties of dates are 35.5 (khalas), 49.7 (barhi) and 30.5 (bo ma'an).[21]

The caffeic acid glycoside 3-O-caffeoylshikimic acid (also known as dactylifric acid) and its isomers, are enzymic browning substrates found in dates.[22]

A 2008 study suggests that consumption of dates by women in the final four weeks of pregnancy has positive effects regarding labor. Women who had six dates daily were compared to women who did not eat dates. The date-consuming group had greater mean cervical dilation, higher proportion of intact membranes, higher proportion of spontaneous labor, lower use of prostin/oxytocin, and shorter latent phase of labor.[23]

Other uses of the fruits[edit]

In Pakistan, a viscous, thick syrup made from the ripe fruits is used as a coating for leather bags and pipes to prevent leaking.

Uses of other parts of the plant[edit]

Where craft traditions still thrive, such as in Oman, the palm tree is the most versatile of all indigenous plants, and virtually every part of the tree is utilized to make functional items ranging from rope and baskets to beehives, fishing boats, and traditional dwellings.[citation needed]

Seeds[edit]

Date seeds are soaked and ground up for animal feed. Their oil is suitable for use in soap and cosmetics. Date palm seeds contain 0.56–5.4% lauric acid. They can also be processed chemically as a source of oxalic acid. The seeds are also burned to make charcoal for silversmiths, and can be strung in necklaces. Date seeds are also ground and used in the manner of coffee beans, or as an additive to coffee. Experimental studies have shown that feeding mice with the aqueous extract of date pits exhibit anti-genotoxic and reduce DNA damage induced by N-Nitroso-N-methylurea.[24]

Fruit clusters[edit]

Stripped fruit clusters are used as brooms.

Sap[edit]

Sweet sap tapped from date palm in West Bengal, India

In large parts of Northern India the local species of wild date palm, Phoenix sylvestris, is tapped for palm wine, while in Pakistan and other countries in the region it is now mostly tapped for jaggery and palm syrup production. Wild date palms are also tapped in large parts of Africa for palm wine. The process of palm tapping involves the cutting of the unopened flower stalk and then fastening a bottle gourd, clay or plastic vessel on to it. The palm sap then collects in the vessel and is harvested in the early morning hours. If a few drops of lime juice are added to the palm sap, fermentation can be stopped and the sap can then be boiled to form palm syrup, palm sugar, jaggery and numerous other edible products derived from the syrup. In India and Pakistan, North Africa, Ghana, and Côte d'Ivoire, date palms are tapped for the sweet sap, which is converted into palm sugar (known as jaggery or gur), molasses or alcoholic beverages. In North Africa the sap obtained from tapping palm trees is known as lāgbī. If left for a sufficient period of time (typically hours, depending on the temperature) lāgbī easily becomes an alcoholic drink.[citation needed] Special skill is required when tapping the palm tree so that it does not die.

Leaves[edit]

Date palm leaves are used for Palm Sunday in the Christian religion. In North Africa, they are commonly used for making huts. Mature leaves are also made into mats, screens, baskets and fans. Processed leaves can be used for insulating board. Dried leaf petioles are a source of cellulose pulp, used for walking sticks, brooms, fishing floats and fuel. Leaf sheaths are prized for their scent, and fibre from them is also used for rope, coarse cloth, and large hats. The leaves are also used as a lulav in the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Young date leaves are cooked and eaten as a vegetable, as is the terminal bud or heart, though its removal kills the palm. The finely ground seeds are mixed with flour to make bread in times of scarcity. The flowers of the date palm are also edible. Traditionally the female flowers are the most available for sale and weigh 300–400 grams. The flower buds are used in salad or ground with dried fish to make a condiment for bread.

Wood[edit]

Date Palm stump showing the wood structure

Date palm wood is used for posts and rafters for huts; it is lighter than coconut and not very durable. It is also used for construction such as bridges and aqueducts, and parts of dhows. Leftover wood is burnt for fuel.

Cultural symbols[edit]

Date Palm in Coat of arms of Saudi Arabia
For more details on this topic, see Palm branch (symbol).

The date palm represents the provincial tree of Balochistan (Pakistan) (unofficial).

Symbolic connotations[edit]

Islam[edit]

In the Koran, Allah instructs the Virgin Mary to eat dates when she gives birth to Jesus;[25] and, similarly, are recommended to pregnant women (primarily by the Salaf).[26]

Diseases and pests[edit]

Date Palms are susceptible to a disease called Bayoud disease, which is caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum. This disease, which kills many of the popular older cultivars like Deglet Noor, has led to a major decline in production where it is present, notably Morocco and western Algeria. However, new cultivars resistant to the disease are being developed.[citation needed] A major palm pest, the red palm beetle (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) currently poses a significant threat to date production in parts of the Middle East as well as to iconic landscape specimens throughout the Mediterranean world.

In the 1920s, eleven healthy Madjool palms were transferred from Morocco to the United States where they were tended by members of the Chemehuevi tribe[which?] in a remote region of Nevada. Nine of these survived and in 1935, cultivars were transferred to the US Date Garden in Indio, California. Eventually this stock was reintroduced to Africa and led to the US production of dates in Yuma, Arizona and the Bard Valley in California.[27]

Date palm genome[edit]

In 2009, a team of researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar published a draft version of the date palm genome (Khalas variety).[28][29]

Types of dates[edit]

Several types of dates can be found in Arabia, some of them are listed here.

EnglishArabicEnglishArabicEnglishArabicEnglishArabic
AfandiأفنديJebailyجبيليMedjoolمجهولSawaidaسويدا
AjwahعجوةKa'ekahكعيكهMenaifyمنيفيShahelشهل
AnbarahعنبرةKhalasخلاصMeskanyمسكانيShalabyشلابي
BaiḍبيضKhoudryخضريMushukahمشوكةShoukryشقري
BarnyبرنيKhuḍabخصابRabiyyahربيعةSufryصفري
BerḥiبرحيLunahلونةRashudiahرشوديهSukkaryسكري
GharrغرLubanahلبانةSafawyصفاويSuqa'eyصقعي
ḤelwahحلوةMabrumمبرومShishyشيشيWananahونانة
ḤelyaحليةMaktoomiمكتوميSariyyahساريةDhawyذاوي

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "USDA GRIN Taxonomy". 
  2. ^ Morton, J. 1987. Date. p. 5–11. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton. Miami, FL. — Purdue University. Center for New Crops and Plants Products.
  3. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Phoenix dactylifera
  4. ^ Biota of North America Project, Phoenix dactylifera
  5. ^ Flora of China, v 253 p 143, Phoenix dactylifera
  6. ^ http://www.buzzle.com/articles/arabian-desert-plants.html
  7. ^ δάκτυλος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  8. ^ fĕro. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project.
  9. ^ Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark; Heuston, Kimberley Burton (2005). The Ancient South Asian World. The World in Ancient Times. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-522243-2. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  10. ^ Hanson, Wendy (2008-06-13). "Date palm seed from Masada is the oldest to germinate". Los Angeles Times. 
  11. ^ Bonner, Franklin T. (April 2008). "Chapter 4 Storage of Seeds" (PDF). Woody Plant Seed Manual,USDA FS Agriculture Handbook 727. National Seed Laboratory, 5675 Riggins Mill Rd, Dry Branch, GA 31020. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  12. ^ http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15282847
  13. ^ "Date Palm". 15 October 2008. HowStuffWorks.com.
  14. ^ http://www.plantsciences.ucdavis.edu/GEPTS/pb143/CROP/DATE/date.htm
  15. ^ http://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/files/ho/2002/sp0212.pdf
  16. ^ http://www.nakhil.ir/Mozafati.html
  17. ^ http://faostat.fao.org/site/339/default.aspx
  18. ^ Das, Bhagwan; Sarin, J. L. (1936). "Vinegar from Dates". Industrial & Engineering Chemistry 28 (7): 814. doi:10.1021/ie50319a016. 
  19. ^ Forbes, Robert James (1971). "Studies in Ancient Technology". 
  20. ^ Walid Al-Shahib, Richard J. Marshall (2003). "The fruit of the date palm: its possible use as the best food for the future?". International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 54 (4): 247–259. doi:10.1080/09637480120091982. 
  21. ^ Miller, CJ; Dunn, EV; Hashim, IB (2002). "Glycemic index of 3 varieties of dates". Saudi medical journal 23 (5): 536–8. PMID 12070575. 
  22. ^ Maier, VP; Metzler, DM; Huber, AF (1964). "3-O-Caffeoylshikimic acid (dactylifric acid) and its isomers, a new class of enzymic browning substrates". Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 14: 124–8. doi:10.1016/0006-291x(64)90241-4. PMID 5836492. 
  23. ^ Al-Kuran, O.; Al-Mehaisen, L.; Bawadi, H.; Beitawi, S.; Amarin, Z. (January 2011). "The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery". Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 31 (1): 29–31. doi:10.3109/01443615.2010.522267. PMID 21280989. 
  24. ^ Diab, K.A; E. I. Aboul-Ela (2012). "In Vivo Comparative Studies on Antigenotoxicity of Date Palm (Phoenix Dactylifera L.) Pits Extract Against DNA Damage Induced by N-Nitroso-N-methylurea in Mice". Toxicology International 19 (3): 279–286. doi:10.4103/0971-6580.103669. PMC 3532774. PMID 23293467. 
  25. ^ The Holy Koran, Chapter 12 - verses 22-25, retrieved on Feb. 28 2015, So she [Virgin Mary] conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. she cried (in her anguish): 'Ah! would that I had died before this! would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!' But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree): 'Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee; And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree; it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.'
  26. ^ Islam Q & A, question # 214222: Does Islam recommend any particular foods to maintain a woman’s good health during pregnancy?, retrieved on Feb. 28 2015
  27. ^ How One Indian Couple Saved "The Fruit of Kings" by Lee Allen, Indian Country News, 25 April 2014
  28. ^ Date Palm Genome Drafted Science Daily, January 14, 2010, Retrieved August 30, 2010
  29. ^ Date Palm Draft Sequence Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, updated April 7, 2010, Retrieved August 30, 2010
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In places where the date palm is common it has very considerable economic importance. A variety of articles are made from the leaves including fans, baskets and mats. The trunk of the palm is also used by the natives in building their houses and other similar purposes. Fruits are eaten as food.
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Economic Significance

A member of the family Arecaceae (Palmae) they are among the oldest cultivated tree crops and and provide many products including food. Yearly production estimates are as high as 4,000,000 tons of fruit per year.

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Economic Significance

A member of the family Arecaceae (Palmae) they are among the oldest cultivated tree crops and and provide many products including food. Yearly production estimates are as high as 4,000,000 tons of fruit per year.

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Old World species widely cultivated esp. in tropics and subtropics, and occasionally established as an escape.

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