Dating bases guide
In general, fruits are divided into three classes: dry dates, which require high temperatures and sun levels for maturation, and are easily stored; semi-dry dates, which are more moist, and also store well; soft dates which must be eaten fresh and therefore are less commonly exported.
Popenoe (1973) listed 1500 'varieties' cultivated to varying extents throughout the zone of date palm growth, and noted that if all named 'varieties' were to be collected together they would number several thousands.
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Single- or multiple-trunked, pinnate palm to 15-25 m (rarely 30 m) tall.
The trunk is 40 - 60 cm diameter, often with a much wider base.
The species is dioecious, with separate male and female trees.
Phoenix dactylifera cultivar taxonomy has not been an aim of this monograph. Together with the olive, grape and fig, date palms were amongst the first fruit crops domesticated in the Old World (Zohary & Speigel-Roy 1975).The term 'variety' has not been clearly defined in respect to the date palm, and was used by Popenoe (1973) to refer to what I consider to be cultivars.Martius (1823 - 1853) described seven varieties of P.Leaves straight, obliquely vertical in orientation, to 3 - 4 (5) m long; leaf base 15 - 20 cm wide; pseudopetiole 50 - 100 cm long; leaf sheath reddish-brown, to about 45 cm long, fibrous; acanthophylls sparsely arranged, pointing in several directions, to 20 cm long; leaflets variously arranged in 1 - 3 planes of orientation, about 50 - 130 on each side of rachis, stiff, about 40 x 2 cm in length; lamina concolorous, glaucous, drying pale green.
Staminate inflorescences erect; prophyll splitting 1 - 2 times between margins, yellow- green with reddish-brown tomentum when young, becoming brown and coriaceous, to 45 x 12 cm; peduncle to about 50 cm long; rachillae to 30 cm long.
The cultural and religious significance of date palms, over a recorded 5000 year history, reflects their economic importance.