Date Palm Phoenix Dactylifera Seeds Hai Zao
Phoenix dactylifera Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 1188. 1753.
海枣 hai zao
Phoenix dactylifera Linn., Sp. Pl. 1188. 1753. Brandis, l.c. 552; Bailey, l.c. 2594; Kitamura, Fl. Afgh. 2:62. 1955; Jafri, Fl. Kar. 77. 1966; R.R. Stewart, l.c.; Moore, Jr. in Rech. f., l.c.
Vern.: Khajoor, Aseel, Khurma.
KAMAL A. MALIK
Solitary tree, 30 m or more, suckers producing offsets (frequently removed) and roots present at base. Crown large, open, leaves larger than Phoenix sylvestris, glabrous, 1-5.1 m long, leaflet in many planes, 20-40 x 2-2.5 cm; pinnae strongly keeled; apex hard, spiny. Lower leaflets transformed into spines, 4-ranked or the upper ones 2-ranked, 10-20 cm long, apex yellowish. Inflorescence covered by a hard, boat-like bract. Female inflorescence 90-120 cm long, main stalk flat, 45-75 cm long, glabrous, rachilla 30 cm or so long, spikelets numerous. Flowers rounded, green, distant. Calyx lobes 3, united at the base, forming a cup-like structure, upper portion thin and translucent, lower one hard, greenish. Sepals c. 4 x 2 mm, petals more than two times larger than the sepals, rounded. Male inflorescence much smaller, 12-25 cm long, sometimes larger, main stalk 60-90 cm long, flat, glabrous, rachilla arises from and near the apex of the main stalk. Flowers sessile, white, sweet-scented, much larger than the female flower, stamens 6, c. 4 mm long, anthers erect, filaments short, subulate; pistillodes minute, three, scale-like. Petals 3-lobed, valvate, 7-8 mm long; sepals 3-lobed, much smaller than the petals, united, forming a cup. Fruit cylindric, 2.5-5.0 x 1-1.5 cm broad, edible, fleshy, yellowish-brown to reddish brown. Seeds stony, acute at the apex, longitudinally grooved from one side.
Type: Palma hortensis mas et foemina of Kdaempfer, Amoenitatum Exot. 668, 686, t. 1, 2. 1712. (Moore & Dransfield, l.c. 64).
Distribution: Probably native to W. Asia and N. Africa. Widely domesticated in Punjab and Sind and also cultivated for their valuable fruits in lower Baluchistan and N.W.F.P.
In places where the date palm is common it has very considerable economic importance. A variety of articles are made from the leaves including fans, baskets and mats. The trunk of the palm is also used by the natives in building their houses and other similar purposes. Fruits are eaten as food.
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