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Date Palm Tree
Date palms, Merzouga, Morocco
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Phoenix
Species: P. dactylifera
Binomial name
Phoenix dactylifera
L.

Phoenix dactylifera commonly known as the Date Palm, is a palm in the genus Phoenix, extensively cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Due to its long history of cultivation for fruit, its exact native distribution is unknown, but probably originated somewhere in the desert oases of northern Africa, and also Western Asia. It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, often clumped with several plants from a single root system, but often growing singly as well. The leaves are pinnate, 3–5 m long, with spines on the petiole and about 150 leaflets; the leaflets are 30 cm long and 2 cm broad. The full span of the crown ranges from 6 to 10 m.

Contents

History of dates

Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around the Persian Gulf, 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 be made into date wine, and ate them at harvest. The Egyptians also ate another fruit of the Palm Tree, The Fruits of The Doum Palm. There is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in eastern Arabia in 6000 BCE. (Alvarez-Mon 2006).

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

Dates

Dates
Worldwide date yield
Dried dates (edible parts)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,180 kJ (280 kcal)
Carbohydrates 75 g
Sugars 63 g
Dietary fibre 8 g
Fat 0.4 g
Protein 2.5 g
Water 21 g
Vitamin C 0.4 mg (1%)
Manganese 0.262 mg
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

The fruit is known as a date.[1] The fruit's English name, 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 diameter, and when unripe, range from bright red to bright yellow in colour, depending on variety. Dates contain a single seed about 2–2.5 cm long and 6–8 mm thick. Three main cultivar groups of date exist: soft (e.g. 'Barhee', 'Halawy', 'Khadrawy', 'Medjool'), semi-dry (e.g. 'Dayri', 'Deglet Noor', 'Zahidi'), 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% 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, mainly 'Medjool' as this cultivar produces particularly high yields of large, sweet fruit. 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, or in some areas such as Iraq they climb 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.

Fresh dates, clockwise from top right: crunchy, crunchy opened, soft out of skin, soft.

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), khalal (full-size, crunchy), rutab (ripe, soft), tamr (ripe, sun-dried). A 100 gram portion of fresh dates is a source of vitamin C[citation needed] and supplies 230 kcal (960 kJ) of energy. Since dates contain relatively little water, they do not become much more concentrated upon drying, although the vitamin C is lost in the process.

Dates are an important traditional crop in Turkey, Iraq, Arabia, and north Africa west to Morocco and are mentioned in many places in the Quran. In Islamic countries, dates and yogurt or milk are a traditional first meal when the sun sets during Ramadan. Dates (especially Medjool and Deglet Noor) are also cultivated in southern California, Arizona and southern Florida in the United States.

Date palms can take 4 to 7 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 80–120 kilograms (176–264 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 & pests such as birds.

Cultivars of dates

Date palm orchard, Boumalne, Morocco

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

  • Aabel — common in Libya
  • Ajwah — from the town of ‘Ajwah in Saudi Arabia, it is the subject of a famous hadith of the Prophet Muhammad.
  • Al-Barakah — from 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.
  • 'Abid Rahim (Arabic: عبد رحيم‎), from Sudan
  • Barakawi (Arabic: بركاوي‎), from Sudan
  • Barhee or (barhi) (from Arabic barh, a hot wind) — these are nearly cylindrical, 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
  • Datça Date - Turkey, this spice is the northest population of dates, in Mediterranean.
  • Deglet Noor (Arabic: 'translucent' or 'date of light') — so named because the centre appears light or golden when held up to the sun. This is a leading date in Libya, Algeria, the USA, and Tunisia, and in the latter country it is grown in inland oases and is the chief export cultivar. It is semi-dry and 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 USA 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.
  • Ftimi or 'Alligue' — these are grown in inland oases of Tunisia.
  • Holwah (Halawi) (Arabic: 'sweet') — these are soft, and extremely sweet, small to medium in size.
  • Haleema — in Hoon, Libya (Haleema is a woman's name)
  • Hayany — from Egypt (Hayani) (Hayany is a man's name) — these dates are dark-red to nearly black and soft.
  • Iteema — common in Algeria
  • Khajur — common in India / Pakistan
  • A kind named(mozati )red in color is very famous in balochisan
  • Kenta — common in Tunisia
Khadrawi date
  • Khadrawy (Arabic: 'green') — a cultivar favoured by many Arabs, it is a soft, very dark date.
  • Khalasah (Arabic: '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 'Huffuf' (Al-Ahsa) in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia (Al-Sharqheyah).
  • Khastawi (Khusatawi, Kustawy) — this is the leading soft date in Iraq; it is syrupy and small in size, prized for dessert.
  • Maktoom (Arabic: 'hidden') — this is a large, red-brown, thick-skinned, soft, medium-sweet date.
  • Manakbir — a large fruit that ripens early.
Medjool date
  • Medjool or (Mujhoolah) (Arabic: 'unknown') — from Morocco, also grown in the USA, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel; a large, sweet and succulent date.
  • Migraf (Mejraf) — very popular in Southern Yemen, these are large, golden-amber dates.
  • Mgmaget Ayuob — from Hoon, Libya
  • Mishriq (Arabic: 'East' — مشرق)‎ — from Sudan and Saudi Arabia
  • Mozafati — from Iran, where it is mainly grown in Kerman province, and often named "Bam (Mozafati) dates", after a city 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. It accounts for 10% of total Iranian date crop. (100,000 tons, of which 30% is exported)
  • there are more than 120 different verieties of dates found in makran balochistan pakistan,but most famous of those are,mozaati,dandaari,aleeni,ab e dandan,shakar,sabzo,rabai,kahraba,begum jangi.
  • 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: 'common') — these dates are dark orange-brown, of medium size, soft and syrupy.
  • Sekkeri — (lit. sugary) Dark brown skin; distinctly sweet and soft flesh, from Saudi Arabia.
  • Sellaj — 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.

+ Martchanna-in Chad + gourouna - in Chad + chiliyan - in Chad

  • Umelkhashab — Brilliant red skin; bittersweet, hard white flesh (Saudi Arabia).
  • Zahidi (Arabic: '[Of the] ascetic') — these medium size, cylindrical, light golden-brown semi-dry dates are very sugary, and sold as soft, medium-hard and hard.


There are more than 100 known cultivars in Iraq. It should be noted, however, that a cultivar can have several names depending on the locality.

Dates from Tunisia

Production

Date seller in the old souq in Kuwait City
Date output in 2005
Top Ten Dates Producers — 2007
(1000 tonnes)
 Egypt 1,313.69
 Iran 1,000.00
 Saudi Arabia 982.54
 United Arab Emirates 755.00
 Pakistan 557.52
 Algeria 526.92
 Iraq 440.00
 Sudan 332.00
 China 255.87
 Libya 175.00
World Total ?
Source:
UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
[1]

Food uses

Dry or soft dates are eaten out-of-hand, or may be pitted and stuffed with fillings such as almonds, walnuts, candied orange and lemon peel, tahini, marzipan or cream cheese. Pitted dates are also referred to as stoned dates. 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. 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. 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.

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.

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.

According to a study by Al-Shahib and Marshall, in many ways, "dates may be considered as an almost ideal food, providing a wide range of essential nutrients and potential health benefits." 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[2]

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 (pronounced [laːɡbiː]). If left for a sufficient period of time (typically hours, depending on the temperature) lāgbī easily becomes an alcoholic drink. Special skill is required when tapping the palm tree so that it does not die.

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.

It is also used to make Jallab.

Other uses of the plant

Date Palm stump showing the wood structure

Date seeds are soaked and ground up for animal feed. Their oil is suitable for use in soap and cosmetics. 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.

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

Date palm sap is used to make palm syrup and numerous edible products derived from the syrup.

Date Palm in Coat of arms of Saudi Arabia

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.

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.

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]

Traditional medicinal uses

Date Palm trees in Multan, Pakistan

Dates have a high tannin content and are used medicinally as a detersive (having cleansing power) and astringent in intestinal troubles.[citation needed] As an infusion, decoction, syrup, or paste, dates may be administered for sore throat, colds, bronchial catarrh, and taken to relieve fever and a number of other complaints.[citation needed] One traditional belief is that it can counteract alcohol intoxication. The seed powder is also used in some traditional medicines.

A gum that exudes from the wounded trunk is employed in India for treating diarrhea and genito-urinary ailments.[citation needed] The roots are used against toothache. The pollen yields an estrogenic principle, estrone, and has a gonadotropic effect on young rats.

Diseases

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.

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ "Date Palm." 15 October 2008. HowStuffWorks.com.
  2. ^ 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. http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a713995031. 
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

DATE PALM, The dates' of commerce are the fruit of a species of palm, Phoenix dactylifera, a tree which ranges from the Canary Islands through Northern Africa and the south-east of Asia to India. It has been cultivated and much prized throughout most of these regions from the remotest antiquity. Its cultivation and use are described on the mural tablets of the ancient Assyrians. In Arabia it is the chief source of national wealth, and its fruit forms the staple article of food in that country. The tree has also been introduced along the Mediterranean shores of Europe; but as its fruit does not ripen so far north, the European plants are only used to supply leaves for the festival of Palm Sunday among Christians, and for the celebration of the Passover by Jews. It was introduced into the new world by early Spanish missionaries, and is now cultivated in the dry districts of the south-western United States and in Mexico. The date palm is a beautiful tree, growing to a height of from 60 to 80 ft., and its stem, which is strongly marked with old leaf-scars, terminates in a crown of graceful shining pinnate leaves. The flowers spring in branching spadices from the axils of the leaves, and as the trees are unisexual it is necessary in cultivation to fertilize the female flowers by artificial means. The fruit is oblong, fleshy and contains one very hard seed which is deeply furrowed on the inside. The fruit varies much in size, colour and quality under cultivation. Regarding this fruit, W. G. Palgrave (Central and Eastern Arabia) remarked: "Those who, like most Europeans at home, only know the date from the dried specimens of that fruit shown beneath a label in shop-windows, can hardly imagine how delicious it is when eaten fresh and in Central Arabia. Nor is it, when newly gathered, heating, - a defect inherent to the preserved fruit everywhere; nor does its richness, however great, bring satiety; in short it is an article of food alike pleasant and healthy." In the oases of Sahara, and in other parts of Northern Africa, dates are pounded and pressed into a cake for food. The dried fruit used for dessert in European countries contains more than half its weight of sugar, about 6% of albumen, and 12% of gummy matter. All parts of the date palm yield valuable economic products. Its trunk furnishes timber for house-building and furniture; the leaves supply thatch; their footstalks are used as fuel, and also yield a fibre from which cordage is spun.

Date sugar is a valuable commercial product of the East Indies, obtained from the sap or toddy of Phoenix sylvestris, the toddy palm, a tree so closely allied to the date palm that it has been supposed to be the parent stock of all the cultivated varieties. The juice, when not boiled down to form sugar, is either drunk fresh, or fermented and distilled to form arrack. The uses of the other parts and products of this tree are the same as those of the date palm products. Date palm meal is obtained from the stem of a small species, Phoenix farinifera, growing in the hill country of southern India.

For further details see Sir G. Watt, Dictionary of the Economic Products of India (1892); and The Date Palm, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry, Bulletin No. 53 (W. T. Swingle), 1904..


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Simple English

See also date (time)
Date Palm
File:Phoenix
Date Palms, Merzouga, Morocco
Conservation status
Secure
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Arecales
Family: Arecaceae
Genus: Phoenix
Species: P. dactylifera
Binomial name
Phoenix dactylifera
L.

[[File:|thumb|Date Palm]] [[File:|thumb|right|Date seller in the old souq in Kuwait City]] The Date Palm is a palm. It has been cultivated for a very long time because of its edible fruit. This fruit is called date. The tree is between 15m and 25m high. It has long leaves that look like feathers. Such leaves are called pinnate. The leaves can grow to 3-5 metres in length. The leaves have visible spines. There are about 150 leaflets. Each leaflet can be up to 30 cm in length and 2cm in breadth. The full span of the crown of the tree is 6 to 10 metres.

The tree has one or more trunks, that all come from a single system of roots.

Production

World production of dates was approximately 6.7 Mio tonnes in 2004 (FAO statistics). The major producers are:

  • Egypt: 1,100,000 t (16.2% of world production)
  • Iran: 880,000 t (13.0%)
  • Saudi Arabia: 830,000 t (12.3%)
  • United Arab Emirates: 760,000 t (11.2%)
  • Pakistan: 650,000 t (9.6%)
  • Algeria: 450,000 t (6.6%)
  • Sudan: 330,000 t
  • Oman: 240,000 t
  • Libya: 140,000 t
  • Others: 1,140,000 t
  • Iraq used to be a major producer of dates but in recent years production and exports have fallen considerably.

The First International Date Conference was held in Tripoli, Libya in 1959. In that conference, it was decided to develop a special program under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to promote the commercial use of substandard or physically defective dates.pcd:Pron·nhié `d Afrique


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