It is disputed whether there are any truly wild date palms in existence today, as they have been under cultivation for at least 7000 years and all extant examples are likely to be cultivars. Date palms are dioecious and consequently most new plants are derived from suckers - plants grown from seed would take longer to come to maturity and 50% would be unproductive males. A few male plants are required, however, as pollination is necessary for the development of the fruit. Wind pollination would be the natural method, but because male plants are so scarce female flowers are manually dusted with anther spathes which can be purchased in local markets.

For more detailed information on the general biology, cultivation and cultural significance of the date palm please refer to the websites cited on our references page.


Fruit Fruits of Phoenix species are one-seeded berries (not drupes) with a smooth epicarp, variously fleshy mesocarp and silvery, membranous endocarp. [diagram] They mature through a range of colours, starting green to yellow/orange and darkening to various shades of red, brown or black. The long history of cultivation has resulted in wide variation in fruit colour, taste, size and texture.


Date stone, Sukkari variety, length 17.6mm

Seeds The seeds are characterised by a deep longitudinal groove or raphe of varying width and depth. Length may range from 13 to 28mm (this study). They are usually slightly flattened dorsiventrally but may approach a circular cross-section. The endosperm is extremely hard, which probably accounts for their persistence in archaeological deposits. A small depression in the testa at a more or less equatorial position opposite the raphe indicates the position of the embryo.

- home - glossary - references -