- Family Palmae (Arecaceae)
- Phoenix dactylifera
- None listed.
- Being high in sugars, they, therefore, should be avoided by diabetics.
The Date palm is a woody plant that starts bearing fruit in the 6th or 7th year, but does not reach maturity until the 30th year. From then on, it will continue to produce for two centuries. There are male and female trees. A good-sized female is capable of producing hundreds of pounds of dates each year. The tree is both cultivated and found wild from India through Western Asia, the Middle East, and all of Northern Africa. In the past, it grew in such abundance in Israel that the area from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea was one huge date forest.(see more in Foods section)
It has been called the staff of life for good reason. An Arabic saying states that there are as many uses for the date palm as there are days in the year, and the people could easily survive on nothing but that tree.
During times of war, the worst thing an enemy could do to a tribe was to destroy the male trees, thus ruining the possibility of future food.
According to Gerard, dates were good for those who were spitting blood or suffering from the bloody flu, as well as for those with sore throats, weak lungs, feeble spleens, failing livers, and flagging libidos. He also stated that the ashes of the pits have a binding quality and used this on puffy eyes, as well as eyelids that were losing their lashes.
- digestive aid
- sugars (50%)
- fatty oil (10%)
- piperidine derivatives
- Fruit, seed
In Ayurvedic medicine, dates are used for bronchitis, clouding of the cornea, headaches, inflamed wounds, kidney disease, and gastric complaints. Date honey is made from dates produced in Algeria, using juice-rich dates dried in the sun. The left-over liquid (date honey) is used to treat chest complaints.
In Saudi Arabia, the stones of the fruit are still ground and roasted as a “coffee” substitute. They can also be ground and soaked in water for several days and fed to camels, cows, and goats. The stones are so nutritious that animals do better physically on this fare than their usual wheat and barley.
Throughout the Middle East, male date palms are tapped in much the same way as Americans tap maple trees for its syrup. A single tree will yield three or four quarts of sap a day for several weeks. This sweet juice can be drunk as is for a refreshment.
The date may be high in sugars, but it also has the ability to restore health to those who are failing, something plain sugar cannot do. The juice of boiled dates is given to invalids to restore their overall strength and vigor.
Traditional Arab medicine uses the date to relieve coughs, to clean out the system, to regulate urination, and enhance fertility. Green date kernels are made into a poultice to treat genital ulcers.