Taxonomic placing: Monocotyledones.

Common name: Date, date palm.

Date Palm

Jan Smith [CC BY 2.0]

Date palm is the vernacular name commonly applied to the tall, evergreen trees of the species Phoenix dactylifera L. (family Palmae), whereas the fruits are called dates. The date palm, whose provenance is in the region of the Middle East to the Persian Gulf, is nowadays grown throughout that region as well as in North Africa, the southwestern USA, Mexico, Australia, and in South Africa. The date palm (along with the banana, which is not strictly a “tree”) is the only major monocotyledonus fruit tree.

There are two main groups of cultivars, wet and dry. The former include varieties, such as Barhee and Hayani, whose fruit is eaten fresh. In order to mature they require temperatures of about 1,000 day degrees above 18ºC, and grow in relatively humid areas. The dry varieties, such as Hadrawi; Deglet Noor and Medjool, require temperatures in excess of 1,500 day degrees, and do better under arid conditions. Date palms, which are drought resistant, prefer aerated, light to sandy soils and can use water with a high salt content. The trees are dioecious, which requires a certain number of male trees to be planted amongst the female trees.

World production of dates came to about 4.8 million tons in 1996, of which Egypt (15% of total), Iran (18%) and Iraq (16%) produced almost half. About 2,100 hectares were planted to date palms in Israel in the year 2000, the dominant cultivar being Medjool.

Major date pests in the Middle East

Arenipses sabella

Batrachedra amydraula

Cadra figulilella

Carpophilus (Carpophilus humeralis and Carpophilus mutilatus)

Coccotrypes dactyliperda

Dysmicoccus brevipes

Ectomyelois ceratoniae

Eutetranychus palmatus

Fiorinia phoenicis

Oligonychus afrasiaticus

Ommatissus binotatus

Oryctes agamemnon

Oryctes elegans

Palmaspis phoenicis

Parlatoria blanchardi

Phoenicococcus marlatti

Rhynchophorus ferrugineus

Psammotermes hypostoma.


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