Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera)
The date palm is a tall, unbranched tree with a crown of huge, compound leaves. It can grow singly or sometimes forming a clump with several stems from a single root system. The leaves are long with spines. Its fruit. called “dates”, is yellow when ripe.
Where to Find: This tree grows in arid semitropical regions. It is native to North Africa and the Middle East but has been planted in the arid semitropics in other parts of the world.
Edible Parts: Its fruit is edible fresh but is very bitter if eaten before it is ripe. You can dry the fruits in the sun and preserve them for a long time. Young date leaves can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable. The seeds can be ground and mixed with flour to make bread. The flowers are also edible.
Other Uses: The trunks provide valuable building material in desert regions where few other treelike plants are found. The leaves are durable, and you can use them for thatching and as weaving material. The base of the leaves resembles coarse cloth that you can use for scrubbing and cleaning. Date seed oil is suitable for use in soap and cosmetics. Stripped fruit clusters can be used as brooms.
Dates have a high tannin content and can be used as a cleansing solution. Dates may be used to treat colds, fever, and sore throats. The gum that exudes from the trunk is used in India for treating diarrhea. The roots can help soothe a toothache.