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Valentine.gr  

April 2003

Did you know that Date palm first originated in Babel, Iraq, as the earliest evidence of its cultivation was during the Eridu period (5.000 B.C.) in Lower Mesopotamia?

Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.)

Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.)

Date palm, Phoenix dactylifera L., is one of the oldest fruit trees in the world and is mentioned in the Qur'an and Bible. The number of the date palms is about 100 million worldwide, of which 62 million palms can be found in the Arab world. The place of origin of the date palm is uncertain. Some claim that the date palm first originated in Babel, Iraq, as the earliest evidence of date Palm cultivation was during the Eridu period (5.000 B.C.) in Lower Mesopotamia.while others believe that it originated in Dareen or Hofuf, Saudi Arabia or Harqan, an island on the Arabian Gulf in Bahrain.

The date palm, is also native to North Africa. It has been extensively cultivated in all arabian areas, where it features as the characteristic vegetation of oases. Moreover it is grown over the Canary Islands, in the northern Mediterranean and in the south of the United States.

This palm, well known since ancient times, was regarded by the Egyptians as being a fertility symbol, it was represented on coins and monuments by the Carthaginians and used as an ornament in triumph pageants by the Greeks and Romans. In the Christian tradition, its leaves have symbolised peace and reminded of Jesus' entry to Jerusalem.

Its generic name is an ancient name, already quoted by Theophrastus, as the one by which the Greeks used to call plants belonging to this genus; it derives from phoenix = Phoenician, as the Phoenicians themselves were supposed to have spread these plants. Its specific name is composed by dactylus = date (from Greek dactylos) and fero = I bear, that is, date-bearing.

The date palm is a perennial. It is an imposing palm with a very slender trunk, up to 30 m tall, conspicuously covered with the remains of sheaths from fallen leaves. Its leaves, clustered together in a maximum number of 20-30 and forming a loose crownshaft, are pinnate, up to 6 m long, upper leaves are ascending, basal leaves are recurved, the segments are coriaceous, linear, rigid and sharp pointed, blue-green in colour. Its flowers, unisexual on dioecious plants, are small, whitish, fragrant, clustered in axillary spadices up to 120 cm long markedly bent downwards by their fruit weight. These fruits, commonly known as dates, are oblong berries, dark-orange when ripe, up to 50 cm long in the cultivated varieties, their flesh is sacchariferous, it contains one woody seed. The female palnts normally begin to bear dates within an average five of years from the time of planting of the offshoot. The date palm reaches an age of about 150 years.

It is a plant sensitive to the cold, it thrives on any kinds of soil, provided that they are fertile and well drained; in mild climate regions, it is grown outdoors where it must be exposed to the sun; it is grown chiefly as an ornamental plant on account of its slender habit and foliage. In order for its fruits to come to a complete maturity, rather high temperatures (40įC) and copious water amounts, these being sometimes provided by means of irrigation in production palms, are required. It propagates by suckers or seeding in spring.

The fruit of the date palm is delicious and sweet. Dates, due to their high sugar content, represent the basic, fundamental food for North Africa, Arabia and Persia's peoples, where hundreds of varieties are grown for commercial purposes. On a commercial scale, the Middle East and North Africa are the major date palm producing areas in the world.

Source:
http://www.redpalmweevil.com/introDatepalm.htm

http://www.dipbot.unict.it/Palms/descr02.html

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/islam08.html

 

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Silver Tree - Leucadendron argenteum
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Himalayan Honeysuckle - Leycesteria formosa
Raisin Tree - Hovenia dulcis
Borojo - Alibertia patinoi - Borojoa patinoi
Butterfly Pea - Clitoria ternatea
Honey Flower - Melianthus major
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Caesalpinia - Caesalpinia pulcherrima
Welwitschia - Welwitschia mirabilis
Saguaro - Carnegiea gigantea
Schisandra - Schisandra chinensis
Monarda - Bee balm - Bergamot
Tamarind - Tamarindus indica
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Red hot poker - Kniphofia - Tritoma
Sikkim rhubarb - Rheum nobile
Reseda - Mignonette
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Calico Flower - Aristolochia
Daylily - Hemerocallis
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Torch Ginger - Etlingera elatior
Mistletoe - Viscum album
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Tree peony - Paeonia suffruticosa
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