Wild 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. Wild Date Palm is the type species of genus Phoenix
, which contains 12–19 species of wild date palms, and is the major source of commercial production.
Wild Date Palm is the wild cousin of the better known Date Palm. It looks the same in almost every way, but shorter height at maturity. It varies from 4 to 8 m in height and 40 cm in diameter. The leaves are 3 m long, gently recurved, on 1 m petioles with spines near the base. The leaf crown grows to 10 m wide and 7.5-10 m tall containing up to 100 leaves. The inflorescence grows to 1 metre with white, unisexual flowers forming to a large, pendent infructescence. The single-seeded fruit ripens to a purple-red colour, and is eaten in India.
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.
People use juice from the date palm for coughs and breathing problems. The pollen from date palm is used for swelling (inflammation) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis) and for conditions in a man that prevent him from getting a woman pregnant within a year of trying to conceive (male infertility).