Phoenix dactylifera

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The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is a palm in the genus Phoenix, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around the Persian Gulf.[1] It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, growing singly or forming a clump with several stems from a single root system. The leaves are 3–5 m long, with spines on the petiole, and pinnate, with about 150 leaflets; the leaflets are 30 cm long and 2 cm wide. The full span of the crown ranges from 6 to 10 m.

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Etymology

The species name dactylifera "date-bearing" comes from Ancient Greek dáktulos "date" (also "finger")[2] and the stem of the Latin verb ferō "I bear".[3]

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. 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.

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