Phoenix dactylifera, the date palm, or Tamar, is a monocot plant from the Arecaceae family. It is a high-energy crop, and one of the most nutritious fruits in the tropics and subtropics. It is rich in sugars, palmitic and organic acids, linoleic, lauric, myristic, and other fatty acids, vitamins A, B1, B2, and traces of vitamin C, niacin, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine, copper, and beta D glucan, a dietary fiber. Dates are a good source of phytochemicals like phenols, and carotenoids.

Fossil records of date palm trees date back at least fifty million years. Some claim that date palm originates from the Indus Valley, because Phoenix sylvestris, the wild variety of date, and in all probability the predecessor of the date palm Phoenix dactylifera, still grows in India and Pakistan.

Wilkinson (1854) lists 360 date palm products. Popenoe 1913 lists and describes 1,500 cultivars of the date palm. The date fruit matures in about 200 days, in four stages. The first stage is kimri or the unripe stage. The second stage is khalal, or the crunchy stage, at which point the fruit reaches full size. The third stage is rutab, or the ripe and soft stage. The final stage is tamr, which is the fully ripe and sun-dried stage. The fruit is harvested in the last three phases.

Date palm is associated with Egyptian gods Ammon Ra and Hathor, the goddess of love, fertility, music, and joy: “In a clean place shall I sit on the ground. Beneath the foliage of a date palm of the goddess Hathor …” (The Egyptian Book of the Dead).

According to Islam, date palm grows in the Garden of Paradise in heaven and is regarded as a symbol of peace. Palm trees around oases were regarded as a gift of Allah. A muezzin, or crier, would climb a date palm tree to call the faithful to prayer. The Koran was apparently first written on palm leaves. There are multiple references to the date palm in the speeches and life of the Prophet Mohammed.

In Judaism, date palm is called Tamar and symbolizes prosperity and abundance (Psalm 92:12). It is also a sign of joy and happiness. The frond of the date palm is part of the Jewish festival of Sukkot. Palm trees adorned ancient temples, and are described in Ezekiel (40:16), and other verses. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, his followers waved palm leaves in greeting. After Jesus’ crucifixion, palm became a symbol of martyrdom for Christian people.

And there is so much more on dates and date palms, To know more read the section on the plant here.

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