Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Date, the drupe-like fruit of the date-palm, Phoenix dactylifera, a tree 60 to 80 feet high, with large pinnate leaves, cultivated in immense quantities in North Africa, Western Asia, and Southern Europe. The stem is covered with leaf scars; the flowers are dioecious, each having a gamosepalous calyx of three sepals and three petals; there are usually six subsessile anthers and three distinct ovaries, but only one of the latter develops into the one-seeded fruit. The stony seed is mainly dense metasperm, having the walls of its cells much thickened with cellulose "which is absorbed in germination. The wood of the stem is used in building; huts are built of its leaves; the petioles are made into baskets and the fibre surrounding their bases into ropes and coarse cloth; the young leaf-bud or "cabbage" is sometimes eaten as a vegetable, or, if tapped, it yields a sugary sap which may be fermented: and even the seeds are ground into meal for camels. A few years ago a company was floated for the manufacture of coffee from date-stones. In Central Arabia and some parts of North Africa the fruit forms the staple food of the inhabitants, camels, horses, and dogs also eating it. It has been shown to be the "lotos" of the lotos-eaters of ancient times, and its leaves were probably those strewn before Christ on the entry into Jerusalem.