The date palm plant is one of the oldest on the planet. In areas where these trees are actively cultivated, dates are not only one of the main food products (they are even called the second bread), but also have important medicinal value. Fans of exotic cultures can try to grow a date palm at home – as the experience of amateur flower growers testifies, these trees adapt to room conditions without much effort.
The date palm tree, due to its dioeciousness, easily forms new forms. For a long time, it has over 5,000 varieties, the number of which continues to increase rapidly. This is facilitated by its propagation by seeds. All varieties of dates are divided into two large groups: with juicy and dry fruits. The former are highly valued when consumed fresh, the latter are indispensable for long-term storage.
Palm trees with feathery leaves often grow in our houses: these are date palms – in the apartment they serve as an excellent decoration for the interior.
Where the date palm grows: the birthplace of the tree
Date (Phoenix) belongs to the Palm family.
Date palms are native to the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and the Canary Islands. Grows only on cultivated land.
The vast modern geography of the date palm exceeds half a million hectares. The life of the peoples inhabiting the desert countries from the Indus to the Atlantic (through the Arabian Desert, North Africa and the Sahara) is entirely connected with the date culture.
And he, stepping over the ocean, spread to the arid regions of the New World (in the deserts of Southern Arizona and southern California). Since 1939, experimental cultivation of the date palm has been carried out in our country, in the south of Turkmenistan, in Kyzyl-Atrek, where the date is already bearing fruit.
Cultivated since ancient times, the date palm is one of the greatest conquests in the history of cultivated plants. Since ancient times it has been and now remains the daily bread for many peoples. The date palm has shaped the geographical landscape of many countries in the south, made possible the life of people in the deserts, defining a special system of oasis agriculture, in which many cultivated agricultural plants successfully grow in the shade of palm trees.
This plant is an excellent indicator of soil moisture in extremely dry conditions. Where the date palm grows, there is always a spring, stream or shallow aquifer. At the same time, intense heat, extreme dryness of the air, the complete absence of precipitation, and even hot dry winds with sandstorms are not a hindrance to her.
As if giving her the name of a phoenix from a hot sandy hell, she rises in the oases of the Sahara and the Libyan desert, in Algeria and in the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, in southern Iran and Pakistan. It is not for nothing that the peoples of these regions idolize her like the Sumerians, calling her “the queen of oases”, “nurse”, “tree of prosperity”. Admiring their patroness, the Arabs say that she “baths her beautiful head in the fire of the sun, and her feet in the coolness of the waters.”
She has unusual resistance to low temperatures for palm trees. Palm trees pampered by the warmth of the tropics are usually extremely sensitive to a slight cold snap, and the date overcomes frosts down to minus fourteen degrees Celsius. When describing date palms, it is worth noting that these trees also successfully live on poor soils – whether it be the loose sands of the Sahara or Arabia, heavy clay or stony soils of southern Iraq and Iran. Especially surprising is its endurance to soil salinity. A good date growth is observed even on lifeless salt marshes, completely covered with salt efflorescence.
The genus Phoenix (this is the scientific name assigned to the genus of date palms by Carl Linnaeus) consists of 17 species. A cultivated date palm in the wild is not yet known. Three wild dates, common in Pakistan, North Africa and the Canary Islands, are closest to the cultural species. As if continuing the tradition of the Sumerians, now the first place in the world in the production of dates is occupied by Iraq, which has over 17 million palm trees in its oases.
In nature, the date palm, due to its impressive longevity (it lives up to 150, and sometimes 200 years), is able to feed more than one generation of Bedouins. In Arabia, it is such a valuable plant that even single trees have their own owner. The best favorite food of the Bedouin – a resident of the desert Arabia – camel milk with dates.
Therefore, the state here is assessed only by the presence of camels and date palms. Indeed, dried or dried fruits – dates, deserve the highest praise. They are not only very tasty and nutritious, but, perhaps, they have no equal among fruits in terms of calories. Date pulp contains up to 71 percent of sugars and up to 2.5 percent of fat, add starch, vitamins, microelements. 3400 calories and a whole set of very important and useful substances!
A curious feature was noticed by scientists in the biology of palm pollination. Pollen of different varieties has an ambiguous effect on the set, and then ripened fruits. On the same specimen, therefore, the fruits are completely different both in size and shape, and in color, taste, chemical composition, and ripening time. Therefore, the selection of a pollinator is a very important and responsible event in palm culture.
The origin of the date palm is one of the most interesting mysteries in the history of cultivated plants. Its ancient relatives, as shown by paleobotanical finds, lived in Switzerland and France, Italy and Kamchatka. Palm remains have been found there in Oligocene and Pleistocene deposits. Fruit prints, for example, have been found in Tertiary deposits in North America (Texas), leaf prints in Kamchatka.
The history of the wild date, which preceded the cultivated date, is most of all associated by botanists with the forest phoenix, whose geography is limited to Asia. He, apparently, was domesticated by the Sumerians or their predecessors.
It is hardly possible to find among other cultivated plants an analogue of dates in terms of durability. The endurance of the palm tree to the daily heat, as the Arabs rightly believe, is unlimited. She adapted to grow only at night. The cells of the apical bud of the stem seem to freeze in the heat of the day and start growing when the sun goes below the horizon.
Nobody thought about the possibility of planting date palms in our deserts. But in 1935, Soviet botanists were carried away by the idea of obtaining Soviet dates – and the history of the Russian date palm began in southwestern Turkmenistan, in Kyzyl-Atrek.
Enthusiast botanists planted two hundred date palm sprouts brought from Iran in Kyzyl-Atrek. Palm trees are well rooted, but in the first winter they froze. At the same time, date seeds were sown, from which four thousand seedlings grew, but in the first year only seven hundred plants survived. It is easy to imagine how worried the scientists were, how they looked after each palm tree at a time when many confidently said: “Nothing will come of this venture. If dates could grow in Central Asia, they would have been grown long before us.”
However, I. V. Michurin’s assertion turned out to be correct that young plants grown from seeds are more easily accustomed to new conditions. A few date palms survived and grew, and in 1939 a significant event took place: a three-year-old palm blossomed. But again, disappointment – its fruits did not ripen, since the flowering of the date palm was later.
In April 1940, a five-year-old phoenix flowered, and in the autumn we received some ripe dates. This was a great achievement: now it was possible to grow from these seeds their own, more frost-resistant plants, more accustomed to new conditions.
In 1949 it was winter with prolonged frosts of -13. The palm trees had lost their leaves, and it seemed that the date palm culture, which had taken fifteen years of labor, was at an end. To the amazement of the saddened botanists, leafless trunks of palm trees threw out inflorescences at the end of April and bloomed. By autumn, the palm trees had grown leaves. Delighted scientists counted twenty-four leaves on one tree, many of which were four meters long. The largest palm tree was eight meters high with a trunk circumference of one meter. She was already thirteen years old. Fifty kilograms of dates were harvested from it in 1949.
How the date palm blooms in nature and at home, how its fruits look (with photo)
The date is the oldest cultivated plant. At home, the date palm looks like a real giant – it eventually reaches the ceiling, it has a straight columnar trunk covered with the remains of petioles. For uniform development of the crown, the dates are periodically turned in different directions to the light.
The leaves of the plant are green, pinnate, up to 2–6 m long, arcuately curved. During the year, up to twelve new leaves grow on a palm tree.
Young palm trees in nature form dense and impenetrable thickets, as the ends of the leaves are prickly, strong and stick out in different directions.
The inflorescence is up to a meter long, with male and female flowers. From the ovary of the female flower of the date palm, a nutritious fruit is formed.
The flowers of the date are small, collected in inflorescences, have a yellow color. They are divided into male and female. The calyx of the flower is in the shape of a goblet. The flowers have only 3 petals. Male flowers have 6 stamens, while female flowers have 3 pistils and 6 modified stamens.
See how the date palm blooms in these photos:
Of the female pistils, only one bears fruit. The fruits (dates) of this plant are well known to everyone.
The date palm is a dioecious plant, that is, on some trees only staminate flowers are formed in the amount of up to twelve thousand, collected in six to nine inflorescences, giving pollen; on other trees pistillate flowers grow up to two and a half thousand; From these flowers fruits are formed – dates.
Even in ancient times, the Babylonians noticed that some palm trees give dates, others do not, and that the fruits of the date palm are not formed without pollination by pollen. They called the palm that produces dates female, and the palm that produces only pollen male.
They tied a cut inflorescence with staminate flowers to the crown of a palm tree with pistil flowers.
This artificial pollination is done in our time. Usually, one palm tree producing pollen is enough for a hundred fruit-bearing palms. The pollen is dispersed by the wind and pollinates the palm flowers of the entire grove.
Such a simple technique provides pollen from one male specimen to 100 female plants. Female date flowers are susceptible to pollen for one to two days, while pollen remains viable throughout the season, and with proper storage up to 10 years.
The fruits ripen rather slowly, in April they turn slightly yellow.
As you can see in the photo, the fruits of the date palm in May have the size of a cherry, in July they begin to ripen and only in August fully ripen:
One tree gives from one hundred to two hundred and fifty kilograms of dates.
When harvesting, the dates are laid out on the ground and dried in the sun. To preserve the dates, they are buried in the sand. They can lie in the sand for two years. On a long journey, they take pressed dates, called “bread of the desert” – “adzhue”.
These photos show what a date palm and its fruits look like:
Next, you can familiarize yourself with the photos and names of the types of date palms.
Types of date palms: photos, names and descriptions
The most popular are: curved date (Ph. reclinata), F. stony (Ph. rupicola), F. forest (Ph. sylvestris), F. palmate, date palm (Ph. dactylifera), F. Robelin (Ph. roebelinii), F. Ceylon (Ph. zeylanica).
Most often, Canarian dates (Ph. canariensis) are sold in stores. The leaves are bright green with a grayish tint, pinnate at the edges bent. Indoors, the plant grows up to 2 m.
Pay attention to the photo – in this type of date palm, the inflorescence is axillary, yellow, under natural conditions reaches a length of 1 m:
Rarely blooms indoors.
The Robelin date grows in the tropical rainforests of India, Burma and Laos and is most suitable for growing indoors. This species of date palms has one or several thin trunks up to 1.5–2 m high, densely covered with remnants of leaf bases. The crown is lush, the leaves are dark green, pinnate, gracefully curved. Robelin date requires a higher temperature content and high humidity.
Look at the photos of the types of date palms, the names of which are given above:
Date palm in the apartment: tree care at room conditions
This is one of the hardiest palm trees. When grown at home, the date palm is kept in a bright, sunny room. The best conditions for the plant are warm, dry air and plenty of sun, so it is recommended to place it near a south-facing window, and in summer take it out to a balcony or garden.
One of the important conditions for mowing a date palm is a sufficient amount of light. In dark rooms, the leaves become brittle, strongly stretched and broken.
During the winter months, the temperature in the room should be at least 5 °C. Dates crooked and Robelin suffer from the scorching rays of the sun and insufficient air humidity, they are also more demanding on heat, in winter they are kept at a temperature of at least 16 ° C. Other types of indoor date palms are less capricious, plants can put up with room temperature, withstand its short-term decrease to 3-5 ° C.
For successful care of the date palm indoors in summer, it is best for the plant to be outdoors – in the garden or on the balcony. The tree is not afraid of dry air.
Substrate – turf and leaf earth, humus, sand (2: 1: 1: 0.5).
The land for date palms, as well as for many other indoor flowers, is made up of leaf (or peat) and soddy soil and sand in equal amounts.
Cirrus leaves appear on the palm tree at home in the third year, and in the rooms – in the fifth and even in the seventh.
To grow a date palm at home as strong as possible, the leaves should be washed with warm water with a soft brush. In summer, during growth, the land should be watered abundantly. The pot must be turned towards the sun so that the leaf arrow is directed into the room. In this case, the palm tree will grow spreading, evenly, and not in one direction.
On a winter evening, by the light of a table lamp, a beautiful patterned shadow grows on the wall from the leaves of a date palm.
How to care for a date palm at home (with video)
You need to care for a date palm at home like most other palms.
The plant requires regular, but not excessive watering. Limited in winter, but the coma should not be allowed to dry out. In summer, the date palm should be watered regularly with water at room temperature, avoiding waterlogging of the soil, which can lead to rotting of the roots. On hot days, the plant is recommended to be sprayed.
In autumn and winter, you can water the palm tree less often. In order for the palm tree to be healthy and beautiful, you need to wipe the leaves every month with a damp soft cloth or sponge.
During the growing season, fertilizer for palms or complex fertilizer should be applied. In winter, flower or complex fertilizers should be applied twice a month to the soil.
To grow a date palm correctly, a young tree must be transplanted annually, an adult plant – once every five years in a mixture consisting of sod, leaf soil and sand, taken in equal parts.
The plant suffers from scale insects and thrips. With improper care, spotting appears on the leaves, the tips turn brown. Over watering can lead to root rot.
The video “Date palm at home shows” how to care for this plant:
The following describes how to propagate a date palm in an apartment.
How to propagate a date palm and how to grow an indoor flower at home from a seed
Reproduction is by seeds. They keep well. In our rooms, date palms grow from date pits, accidentally or deliberately planted in a flower pot filled with earth.
When you come across dates, do not throw the pits, but plant them. It is better to put them not in the ground, but in damp sawdust or peat mixed with sand. You can spread them out on moist loose earth in a pot and cover with marsh white moss (sphagnum).
The moss is moistened and the pot is covered with glass on top. Pots with date seeds should be kept in a warm place at a temperature of 25 – 30 C.
Sprouts appear only after two or three months, or even later if the seeds were dried.
In order to grow a date palm from a seed as quickly as possible, to speed up germination, it is recommended to pour hot water over the dates (80 C) and leave them to cool in it for a day.
The seeds can be slightly filed or scratched. Academician T. D. Lysenko, determining the germination of seeds, accelerated (by two weeks) the germination of wheat seeds with reduced germination by piercing their shell with a needle.
Pricking, filing and dousing with hot water breaks the dense shell of the seeds and helps the penetration of air and water, which are necessary for disturbing dormancy and germination.
When the sprouts reach 10 centimeters, they are planted in a small pot with humus soil mixed with sand.
In a small pot, the roots grow rapidly, the earth does not turn sour and thus does not cause root rot.
The base of the stem, rising above the ground, should be wrapped with wet moss and not buried in the ground when transplanting.
Uses of date palms
Sacred books were written on palm leaves in India, cities were named after the date palm, its image was minted on coins.
Date palms are widely used in the national economy and industry. Houses, fishing boats, bridges are built from leaves and wood, they are also used as fuel, baskets, ropes, coarse cloth, canes, and many other necessary things are made. From the fruits of the date palm, a syrup is obtained, used to cover leather bags, insulate pipes. If you cut a palm tree, you can get juice containing palm sugar (molasses). Flowers and buds are used to make salads. The fruits are widely used in the production of buns, chocolate, cakes, and indeed in the confectionery business. The oil obtained from the fruit is used in cosmetics. Sometimes the fruits act as animal feed. Dates can be equated with cereals because of the nutrients they contain.
Many desert dwellers refer to the date as bread because it is an important food. But, if crushed date seeds and mixed with wheat or some other flour, you can actually bake delicious bread.
The fruits of dates contain many useful substances and trace elements – iron, mineral salts, magnesium, vitamins A, group B, phosphorus, amino acids and many others. Nutritionists believe that eating 1 date and 1 glass of milk will give a person all the necessary nutrients at a minimum to maintain strength for the whole day, because 23 types of amino acids were found in dates – more than in other products. But do not forget that dates, mainly dried ones, contain up to 65% of simple carbohydrates – this is the largest percentage compared to other fruits. The composition of simple carbohydrates is similar to regular sugar, so a lot of dates are not recommended.
The expectorant, skin softening, laxative, energy effects of the plant are widely used for medicinal purposes. Fruits are also used to enhance lactation.