Dates (Phoenix dactilĂ­fera, of the family Palmae) probably are native to India despite the fact that they have been grown in the Arab countries for many thousands of years. The date palm is grown in all hot, dry areas of the world but primarily in the desert areas of the Middle East and the Sahara. Dates are also grown in California, Arizona, and Mexico. The date palm is a dioecious plant, meaning that both male and female plants must be grown to ensure pollination. The fruit is borne at the top of a very tall (up to 90 ft) tree and is pollinated by suspending a small branch of the male flowers over the female inflorescence. Each individual fruit contains a hard seed called a stone. The seed is surrounded by an edible fleshy endocarp that when dried contains up to 70% sugar. The high sugar content ensures that the fruit will not spoil during storage or shipping. Dry dates are consumed fresh or incorporated into a wide variety of bakery products, confections, dairy products, preserves, spreads, beverages, and other products. The Arabs are believed to have over 800 different uses for the date, perhaps because it is almost the only plant available in the desert areas (2).

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