|Dates on a date palm|
Phoenix dactylifera, commonly known as date or date palm, is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. The species is widely cultivated across Northern Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, and is naturalized in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. P. dactylifera is the type species of genus Phoenix, which contains 12–19 species of wild date palms, and is the major source of commercial production.
Date trees typically reach about 21–23 metres (69–75 ft) in height, growing singly or forming a clump with several stems from a single root system. Date fruits (dates) are oval-cylindrical, 3 to 7 centimetres (1 to 3 in) long, and about 2.5 centimetres (1 in) in diameter, ranging from bright red to bright yellow in colour, depending on variety. Containing 61–68 percent sugar by mass when dried, dates are a very sweet fruit.
Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East and the Indus Valley for thousands of years. There is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in Arabia from the 6th millennium BCE. The total annual world production of dates amounts to 8.5 million metric tons, countries of the Middle East and North Africa being the largest producers.
- IPA(key): /deɪt/
- Rhymes: -eɪt
From Middle English date, from Old French date, datil, datille, from Latin dactylus, from Ancient Greek δάκτυλος (dáktulos, “finger”) (from the resemblance of the date to a human finger), probably a folk-etymological alteration of a word from a Semitic source such as Arabic دَقَل (daqal, “variety of date palm”) or Hebrew דֶּקֶל (deqel...