Date

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The date is an erect palm to 100 or 120 ft (30.5-36.5 m), the trunk clothed from the ground up with upward-pointing, overlapping, persistent, woody leaf bases. After the first 6 to 16 years, numerous suckers will arise around its base. The feather-like leaves, up to 20 ft (6 m) long, are composed of a spiny petiole, a stout midrib, and slender, gray-green or bluish-green pinnae 8 to 16 in (20-40 cm) long, and folded in half lengthwise. Each leaf emerges from a sheath that splits into a network of fibers remaining at the leaf base. Small fragrant flowers (the female whitish, the male waxy and cream colored), are borne on a branched spadix divided into 25 to 150 strands 12 to 30 in (30-75 cm) long on female plants, only 6 to 9 in (15-22.5 cm) long on male plants. One large inflorescence may embrace 6,000 to 10,000 flowers. Some date palms have strands bearing both male and female flowers; others may have perfect flowers. As the fruits develop, the stalk holding the cluster may elongate 6 ft (1.8 m) while it bends over because of the weight. The fruit is oblong, 1 to 3 in (2.5-7.5 cm) long, dark-brown, reddish, or yellowish-brown when ripe with thin or thickish skin, thick, sweet flesh (astringent until fully ripe) and a single, cylindrical, slender, very hard stone grooved down one side.

Authors: 
Julia F. Morton
Publisher: 
Fruits of warm climates
Year: 
1987