DATE or DATE PALM (Pkwnix dactyl ifera), a tall tree of the natural order Palma cecr. It is most notable for its fruit, which is an important part of the daily food of the natives of western Asia and northern Africa, where the tree is indigenous and from whence large quantities of dried dates (the fruit) are exported to other countries. The tree is also cultivated in some other warm countries, includ ing China, Italy, France, Snain and parts of the United States — Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and California, in the last three of which a promising industry seems to be becoming started. The tree, which attains a height of 100 feet, and bears fruit for one or two centuries, is, like other palms, useful in many ways; nearly all its parts are used for something. Date seeds are roasted and used as a substitute for coffee, or ground, and pressed for oil and the pomace used for stock food. The leaves are used for matting, baskets, thatch, etc.; the terminal bud as a vegetable; the wood for fence making and other purposes where great strain is not expected; the fibre of the bark for making rope; but the fruit, which, contains proteids, gum and pectin, and is particularly rich in sugar, is the most important part. It is one of the principal sources of wealth in the countries where the date is indigenous. It is believed that the leaves of this palm are the ones referred to in biblical writings, and at the present time the leaves of this palm are largely used upon Palm Sunday among Christians living where the trees abound. The leaves were also symbolical of
victory. beauty, etc., among the ancient Greeks and Jews.
Since the male and female flowers are borne on separate trees, enough specimens of stami nate flowering trees must be planted to fertilize the blossoms on the others which alone produce fruit. Since the plants obtained from seeds are of unknown sex until they flower, and since the proportion of inferior seedlings to seedlings which bear superior fruit is very large, the date is propagated by means of suckers, since these retain the characteristics of the parent. The young plants are set in sunny situations, in almost any kind of soil where water is within reach of the roots or can be Supplied by irriga tion. The sandy, alkaline soils of deserts seem more satisfactory than the richer soils necessary for the growth of general crops. The trees are very difficult to make grow after transplanting, because they demand much attention especially as to watering. A loss of 50 per cent is not uncommon even with the best of attention. The surviving trees should commence to bear when about eight years old. The fruit is borne in clusters which hang from the thick crown of large pinnate leaves. Individual trees produce from 300 to 500 pounds or more of fruit in a season. The fruit is eaten both fresh and dried and is divided into soft and dry dates. They vary in color, quality and size.