Date palm, is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit.
Date palm is probably the most ancient cultivated tree in the world. It has been cultivated in North Africa and the Middle East for at least 5000 years.
The earliest record from Iraq (Mesopotamia) shows that date culture was probably established as early as 3000 BC.
The Ancient Egyptians used the fruits to make date wine, and ate them at harvest.
In Ancient Rome the palm fronds used in triumphal processions to symbolize victory.
The date palm was a popular garden plant in Roman peristyle gardens, though it would not bear fruit in the more temperate climate of Italy. It is recognizable in frescoes from Pompeii and elsewhere in Italy, including a garden scene from the House of the Wedding of Alexander.
It could be safely assumed that the reason for mentioning dates and date palms in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions was due mainly to the influence of the Prophet Abraham, who was born and raised in the old city of Ur where date palms were grown. Ibrahim’s love of the date and date palm left a lasting influence on these religions.
Spanish missionaries carried the tree to the New World in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Today it is found in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide; but mainly in the Canary Islands, northern Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, and in southern California, Arizona and southern Florida in the United States.
Date trees typically reach about 21–23 meters (69–75 ft) in height.
Its stem, strongly marked with the pruned stubs of old leaf bases, terminates in a crown of graceful, shining, pinnate leaves from 4 to 6 meters (13 to 20 feet) long.
Floral spikes branch from the axils of leaves that emerged the previous year.
Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. Under cultivation the female flowers are artificially pollinated.
The date is a one-seeded fruit, or berry, usually oblong but varying much in shape, size, color, quality, and consistency of flesh, according to the conditions of culture. They are usually from 3 to 7 cm (1.2 to 2.8 in) long, and from 2 to 3 cm (0.8 to 1.18 in) diameter, and when ripe, range from bright red to bright yellow in color, depending on variety.
More than 1,000 dates may appear on a single bunch weighing 8 kilograms (18 pounds) or more.
There are 242 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of dates. A large portion of the calories in this food come from sugars.
Dates are a good source of energy, fiber, sugar, and various vitamins and minerals. Essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, and zinc can be found in dates. Apart from the above-mentioned nutrients, they also contain vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin K.
The health benefits of dates include improve bone health, help regulate cholesterol, improve heart health, regulates blood pressure, promote brain health, benefits for skin, prevent inflammation, good for constipation and treat diarrhea.
Syrup, alcohol, vinegar, and a strong liquor are derived from the fruit.
The dried fruit is more than 50 percent sugar by weight.
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.
The fruit’s English name (through Old French), as well as the Latin both come from the Greek word for “finger”, dáktulos, because of the fruit’s elongated shape.
Date palm leaves are used for Palm Sunday in the Christian religion.
The Jews consider the date as one of the seven holy fruits and they celebrate Palm Sunday.
Dates are mentioned more than 50 times in the Bible and 20 times in the Qur’an.
In the Bible palm trees are referenced as symbols of prosperity and triumph.
There is a legend that the date palm (not the apple tree) was the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and that the date (not the apple) was the fruit Eve so generously offered to Adam in the Garden of Eden (Figure 17b). If the date palm was the tree of knowledge, Gabriel would not have suggested to Adam that he taste and eat the dates.