The New Student's Reference Work/Date
Date, the fruit of a well-known palm, Phœnix dactylifera, which is native to northern Africa and Arabia, and is more or less cultivated in other tropical and subtropical regions. It is one of the most common food-articles of the Arabs, and other parts of the plant furnish them with materials for various purposes. The tree becomes 100 feet high, having a straight, rough trunk, and is said to bear its enormous clusters of fruit for one or two centuries. The date palm has been cultivated in the Spanish parts of North America for many years, but chiefly for decorative purposes. The only part of the United States suitable for growing the tree for commercial purposes is said to be southern Arizona and southern California, where some interesting experiments are being made and considerable success has already been attained. Dates rank very high as food, and are eaten both fresh and dried. In the date-palm staminate flowers are borne on one tree, pistillate ones on another. To insure perfect pollination the Arabs cut off sprays of staminate flowers and place them in the pistillate trees. The tree is propagated by seeds and by suckers; if a certain variety is desired, suckers are used; the date is like the apple in not growing true to seed.