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Leonardo Morris
Leonardo Morris

Date


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Date



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In 2009, a team of researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar published a draft version of the date palm genome (Khalas variety).[13][14] The draft genome sequence was improved in 2019 with the release of a more complete genome sequence using small molecule real-time sequencing technology by a team from the New York University Abu Dhabi Center for Genomics and Systems Biology and the UAE University Khalifa Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in the United Arab Emirates. With the release of this improved genome assembly, the UAE researchers were able to map genes for fruit color and sugar content.[15] The NYU Abu Dhabi researchers had also re-sequenced the genomes of several date varieties to develop the first single nucleotide polymorphism map of the date palm genome in 2015.[16]


The species name dactylifera 'date-bearing' is Latin, and is formed with the loanword dactylus in Latin from Greek daktylos (δάκτυλος), which means 'date' (also 'finger'),[18] and with the native Latin fero, which means 'to bear'.[19] The fruit is known as a date.[20] The fruit's English name (through Old French, through Latin) comes from the Greek word for 'finger', δάκτυλος,[18] because of the fruit's elongated shape.


The place of origin of the date palm is uncertain because of long cultivation. According to some sources it probably originated from the Fertile Crescent region straddling Egypt and Mesopotamia[6] while others state that they are native to the Persian Gulf area or even western India.[21] Fossil records show that the date palm has existed for at least 50 million years.[22]


A major palm pest, the red palm beetle (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus), currently poses a significant threat to date production in parts of the Middle East as well as to iconic landscape specimens throughout the Mediterranean world. Pinhas et al. 2008 uses piezoelectric sensors and speech recognition technology to detect R. ferrugineus. They achieved a 98% detection ratio on young P. dactylifera in very controlled laboratory conditions.[23] Another significant insect pest is Ommatissus lybicus, sometimes called the "dubas bug", whose sap sucking results in sooty mould formation.


In the 1920s, eleven healthy Medjool palms were transferred from Morocco to the United States where they were tended by members of the Chemehuevi tribe[which?] in a remote region of Nevada. Nine of these survived and in 1935, cultivars were transferred to the "U.S. Date Garden" in Indio, California. Eventually this stock was reintroduced to Africa and led to the U.S. production of dates in Yuma, Arizona, and Bard, California.[24]


Not all cities and countries have benefited from the date palm's resilience and ease of growth. It has made the invasive species list in some parts of the United States, Canada and Australia[25][26][27] but these references are to the related but inedible Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis).


Dates have been cultivated in the Middle East and the Indus Valley for thousands of years, and there is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in Mehrgarh, a Neolithic civilization in western Pakistan, around 7000 BCE[31] and in eastern Arabia between 5530 and 5320 calBC.[32] Dates have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt. The ancient Egyptians used the fruits to make date wine and ate dates at harvest.[citation needed] Evidence of cultivation is continually found throughout later civilizations in the Indus Valley, including the Harappan period from 2600 to 1900 BCE.[31]


One cultivar, the Judean date palm, is renowned for its long-lived orthodox seed, which successfully sprouted after accidental storage for 2,000 years.[33] In total seven seeds about 2000 years old have sprouted and turned into trees named Methuselah, Hannah, Adam, Judith, Boaz, Jonah and Uriel.[34] The upper survival time limit of properly stored seeds remains unknown.[35] A genomic study from New York University Abu Dhabi Center for Genomics and Systems Biology showed that domesticated date palm varieties from North Africa, including well-known varieties such as Medjool and Deglet Nour, are a hybrid between Middle East date palms and the Cretan wild palm, P. theophrasti. Date palms appear in the archaeological record in North Africa about 2,800 years ago, suggesting that the hybrid was spread by the Minoans or Phoenicians.[36]


A large number of date cultivars and varieties emerged through history of its cultivation, but the exact number is difficult to assess. Hussain and El-Zeid[38] (1975) have reported 400 varieties, while Nixon[39] (1954) named around 250. Most of those are limited to a particular region, and only a few dozen have attained broader commercial importance. The most renowned cultivars worldwide include Deglet Noor, originally of Algeria; Yahidi and Hallawi of Iraq; Medjool of Morocco; Mazafati of Iran.[40]


Dry or soft dates are eaten out-of-hand, or may be pitted and stuffed with fillings such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, candied orange and lemon peel, tahini, marzipan or cream cheese. Pitted dates are also referred to as stoned dates. Partially dried pitted dates may be glazed with glucose syrup for use as a snack food. Dates can also be chopped and used in a range of sweet and savory dishes, from tajines (tagines) in Morocco to puddings, ka'ak (types of Arab cookies) and other dessert items. Date nut bread, a type of cake, is very popular in the United States, especially around holidays. Dates are also processed into cubes, paste called 'ajwa, spread, date syrup or "honey" called "dibs" or rub in Libya, powder (date sugar), vinegar or alcohol. Vinegar made from dates was a traditional product of the Middle East.[41][42] Recent innovations include chocolate-covered dates and products such as sparkling date juice, used in some Islamic countries as a non-alcoholic version of champagne, for special occasions and religious times such as Ramadan. When Muslims break fast in the evening meal of Ramadan, it is traditional to eat a date first.


Reflecting the maritime trading heritage of Britain, imported chopped dates are added to, or form the main basis of a variety of traditional dessert recipes including sticky toffee pudding, Christmas pudding and date and walnut loaf. They are particularly available to eat whole at Christmas time. Dates are one of the ingredients of HP Sauce, a popular British condiment.


In Southeast Spain (where a large date plantation exists including UNESCO-protected Palmeral of Elche) dates (usually pitted with fried almond) are served wrapped in bacon and shallow-fried. In Israel date syrup, termed silan, is used while cooking chicken and also for sweets and desserts, and as a honey substitute. Dates are one of the ingredients of jallab, a Middle Eastern fruit syrup. In Pakistan, a viscous, thick syrup made from the ripe fruits is used as a coating for leather bags and pipes to prevent leaking.


In the past, sticky dates were served using specialized small forks having two metal tines, called daddelgaffel in Scandinavia.[47] Some designs were patented.[48] These have generally been replaced by an inexpensive pale-colored knobbled plastic fork that resembles a date branch, which is traditionally included with numerous brands of prepackaged trays of dates (example), though this practice has declined in response to increased use of resealable packaging and calls for fewer single-use plastics.


In North Africa, date palm leaves are commonly used for making huts. Mature leaves are also made into mats, screens, baskets, and fans. Processed leaves can be used for insulating board. Dried leaf petioles are a source of cellulose pulp, used for walking sticks, brooms, fishing floats, and fuel. Leaf sheaths are prized for their scent, and fibre from them is also used for rope, coarse cloth, and large hats.


In Ancient Rome, the palm fronds used in triumphal processions to symbolize victory were most likely those of P. dactylifera.[51] The date palm was a popular garden plant in Roman peristyle gardens, though it would not bear fruit in the more temperate climate of Italy.[52] It is recognizable in frescoes from Pompeii and elsewhere in Italy, including a garden scene from the House of the Wedding of Alexander.[52] In later times, traders spread dates around southwest Asia, northern Africa, and Spain. Dates were introduced into California by the Spaniards by 1769, existing by then around Mission San Diego de Alcalá, and were introduced to Mexico as early as the 16th century.[53]


Many Jewish scholars believe that the "honey" reference in Exodus chapter 3 to "a land flowing with milk and honey" is actually a reference to date "honey", and not honey from bees.[55] In the Torah, palm trees are referenced as symbols of prosperity and triumph.[56] Psalm 92:12 states that "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree." Palm branches occurred as iconography in sculpture ornamenting the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, on Jewish coins, and in the sculpture of synagogues. They are also used as ornamentation in the Feast of the Tabernacles.[54] Date palms are one of the seven species of native Israeli plants revered in Judaism.[57] The date palm has historically been considered a symbol of Judea and the Jewish people.[58] The leaves are used as a lulav in the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.[59] They are also commonly used as the s'chach in the construction of a sukkah.[60] 041b061a72


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