Date Palm

Phoenix dactylifera, commonly known as date or date palm, is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit called dates. The species is widely cultivated across northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, and is naturalized in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.



Date palms are unique because they are either male or female plants, and they will need to cross-pollinate in order to bear fruit. The fruit has been the staple food and chief source of wealth in the irrigable deserts of North Africa and the Middle East.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

21–23 metres (69–75 ft)


Width-Circumference (Avg)

20-40 feet


Approximate pH

8.0–11.0


Varieties of Dates


  • Medjool: The Medjool date is the most commonly sold date in the US. They are large and juicy with a maple flavor that makes them great for cooking and baking.

  • Deglet Noor: Deglet Noor dates are the second most commonly available date in the US. They have a subtler flavor than Medjools with a slightly nutty taste.

  • Barhi: Sweet Bahri dates are typically enjoyed as snacks or desserts and are popularly grown in Southern California. They're very delicate which makes them difficult to cook with.

  • Halawi: Halawi dates are small fruits that have a buttery caramel flavor.

  • Mazafati: Mazafati are medium-sized dates with a sweet taste and a soft, fleshy texture.

  • Kadrawi: Kadrawi dates have a syrupy taste and a gooey texture, making them a popular choice for baking.


Different Species of Date Palms


  • Pygmy Date Palm: The Pygmy Date palm has been popular for many years because of it's ease of growth and small stature. Its origins come from Asia and more specifically Southern China. Laos and Vietnam. It needs more moisture than other date palms and tolerates shade.

  • Canary Island Date Palm: The most classical Phoenix species is Phoenix Canariensis, known as the Canary Island Date Palm. It is the largest of the Date Palm family and gets trunks up to 60 feet tall and sometimes as thick as 3 feet. Its trunk is slightly rough but not "knobby" like the Phoenix dactylifera. The crown is full with many long pinnate leaves, sometimes to 15 feet or longer. This species is native to the Canary Islands, a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean southwest of Spain near the African continent. It is a favorite ornamental palm and planted worldwide.

  • Silver Date Palm: This species is from southern Pakistan and India. It resembles a Phoenix canariensis but the trunk is not as thick. It carries many leaves and the overall crown shape is somewhat smaller and more "rounded" than the Phoenix canariensis. Phoenix sylvestris known as "Silver Date Palm", "Toddy Palm", and "Wild Date Palm". Different from the Canary Island Palm, this species has multiple ranks of leaflets on the leaves (not flat in profile) and may appear somewhat "fluffy".

  • Senegal Date Palm: Phoenix reclinata is a multitrunk palm with long, feathery green leaves and spines on leaf stems, native to central and southern Africa, Madagascar and the Comoro Islands. Senegal date palm is a slow grower that likes regular watering but tolerates dry periods.

  • Cliff Date Palm: This is a solitary trunking species that comes from India and adjacent areas at rather high elevations and often on hillsides or slopes of mountains, thus giving it the name of "Cliff Date Palm" (Phoenix rupicola).

  • Cretan Date Palm: Phoenix theophrastii is a Phoenix species with a very limited area of distribution, native to Southern Greece and the Island of Crete and perhaps some surrounding areas. It is a suckering species.

  • Dwarf Date Palm: Phoenix acualis is a unique species in that it is basically "trunkless". It is for this reason that it is known as the Dwarf Date Palm. It is native to northern India and Nepal. It is a small palm and single trunked. However, like other Phoenix, it is spiny. Trunks apparently are subterranean and roots seek out water as this species is often found in very arid areas. Fruits and blossoms are often seen at ground level. Overall the plant is a rather small plant with gray-green leaves. Because of its small size, it may do well among succulents or in a xerophytic garden.


Growing Date Palm Tree

Collect date seeds. You can use the pits from any fresh dates bought from the grocery store to grow a flourishing date palm. Make sure to buy dates that haven't been pitted. Remove the seeds from the fruit, and wash them to remove any excess fruit particles. Soak them in a bowl of cool water for 48 hours. Change the water once a day while you’re soaking. If any seeds float to the top, discard them.


Germinate your seeds. You will need to germinate your seeds before you plant them in any soil. Fold a damp paper towel around one of your seeds and seal it in a sandwich bag. Leave the seed bag in a warm dark place for 6 to 8 weeks. Every two weeks, check the seed and replace the paper if it is growing any mold.


Pot your seedling in the proper container. After 6 to 8 weeks your seeds should have small sprouts, which means that they are ready to plant. Fill a medium-sized pot with well-draining sandy soil. You can always use a palm soil mixture from the nursery. Plant your seed about one inch beneath the lid of the pot, then cover the seed with a layer of sand so that your sprout is above the soil. Only plant one seed at a time. Your palm tree will likely take a long time to grow into a tree (potentially up to four years) but patience and regular care can pay off.


Care for Date Palm Tree


Date palm may take a few years to grow into a tree. Before it becomes a fruit-bearing palm, need to take care of date tree.


Light


In harmony with its preferred dry, hot climate, the date palm loves plenty of sunshine. It can tolerate light shade but does better in a full sun position.


Soil


Well-draining soil is the biggest factor to consider when choosing where to plant your date palm. This palm variety is tolerant of salty soil and does well in sandy conditions.


Water


The date palm is drought-tolerant, especially once well-established. However, during its flowering and fruiting season, it needs plenty of water to produce a healthy crop.


New trees will need more water than well-established trees. Since it prefers well-draining soil, it does not like too much moisture around its roots.


Temperature and Humidity


These trees prefer hot, dry, and sunny conditions. In fact, temperatures need to be around 95 degrees Fahrenheit to bring about pollination. Temperatures that are too cold can cause severe damage to the fronds or even kill the tree. It isn't a palm tree variety that can tolerate freezing temperatures.


As for the fruit of the date palm, it also does best in dry heat. Too much humidity and moisture can lead to rotting.


Fertilizer


To fertilize your date palm, manure makes an excellent option. If you’d rather use packaged fertilizer, speciality palm tree fertilizer is recommended. Give fertilizer during the late winter to prep the tree for its fruit production in the coming months.


Pests and Diseases


Pests


  • Coconut rhinoceros beetle - Oryctes rhinoceros: V-shaped cuts in palm fronds or holes in leaf midribs caused by beetles boring into crown to feed; adult insect is a large black beetle with a curved spine on its head; larvae are creamy white grubs with brown heads and 3 sets of prolegs at the anterior (head) end.

  • Parlatoria date scale - Parlatoria blanchardi: Discolored areas on leaflets where insects are feeding; leaflets turning yellow and fronds dying; discolored fruits; insect is a circular-oval scale.


Diseases


  • Bayoud disease - Fusarium oxysporum: Leaflets of mature leaves becoming chlorotic at the base on one side; leaf death progressively to the leaf tip; brown or white lesions on underside of leaves.

  • Black scorch disease - Ceratocystis paradoxa: Dark brown-black, hard lesions on leaves; foliage with scorched appearance.

  • Diplodia disease - Diplodia phoenicum: Death of suckers either while still attached to mother or after planting.

  • Graphiola leaf spot - Graphiola phoenicis: Small spots on both sides of leaves; yellow spore masses on leaves; black crater-like lesions on leaves.

  • Khamedj disease - Mauginiella scattae: Brown or rust colored area on unopened spathes; partial or complete distruction of flowers.


Harvesting Date Palms


When the fruit is coming in, remove about two-thirds of it while it is still green. This may sound counterintuitive, but it will allow the remaining fruit to grow larger and have a better airflow, ensuring a healthy crop. This also prevents the tree from producing a very heavy crop one year, then a very light crop the next year.


Once fruit is ripe, simply cut off the fruit bunch and bag the fruit to protect them from moisture and other elements. You may need to expose them to heat to allow them to further ripen. However, avoid direct sun as this can burn the fruit.


Benefits of Dates

  • Very nutritious

  • High in fiber

  • High in disease-fighting antioxidants

  • May promote brain health

  • May promote natural labor

  • Excellent natural sweetener

  • Good for blood sugar control and bone health

  • Good for diet


Uses


Food

One of the main uses for Date palms are its fruits. The fruit is often used as food, mainly as an exotic fruit. It can be eaten raw, or as part of various salads or sweets.


Cosmetics

Date palms have a use in the cosmetic industry. Date palm oil is an important ingredient in many cosmetic products as well as soaps.


Medical Use

It is believed that Date palms contain tannin, which has plenty uses in medicine. Various parts of the plant can be used to get tannin.


Animal Food

Another use for Date palm seeds is to turn them into animal food. While not all animals can eat this food, it does provide a good source of food for many animal species.


Other Uses

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.

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