Phoenix dactylifera seed
The large greenish or bluish gray pinnate leaves are typically 18-20 ft (5.5-6.1 m) long by 2 ft (0.6 m) wide. They are arranged in a thick canopy up to 40 feet wide. The palm has hundreds of stiff leaflets which gives it an airy appearance. The leaflets are 1-2 ft (0.3-0.6 m) long and are arranged in V-shape ranks that run the length of the leaf stem. The ones near the base are modified into sharp 3-4 in (7.6-10.2 cm) spines. The old leaf bases remain attached to the trunk further enhancing the rugged beauty of the palm. In this and related species of Phoenix, the un-branched stem is covered with persistent leaf bases.
The yellow orange to red fruit, called ‘dates’, are oblong and about 1.5 in (3.8 cm) in length. They consist of a large pointed seed surrounded by sweet sugary flesh that takes six to seven months to develop this taste. Dates are formed from flowers on 4 ft (1.2 m) inflorescences that emerge from among the leaves in spring. Male and female flowers grow on separate plants. Only the female plants produce dates and only if a male tree is nearby. After the fruits have begun to grow, the fruit-bearing stalks are pulled down through the leaves and tied to the midrib of a lower leaf, to prevent breakage as the fruits increase in weight. Dates are harvested carefully by hand because the fruits mature at different times over the period of a month. Certain dates (dry dates) are left on the plant until the entire inflorescence of fruits is ripe, and then the whole structure is cut. The dates may be eaten immediately or stored to dry.
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