Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2007
Publication Date: 8/1/2007
Citation: Chao, C.T., Krueger, R. 2007. The date palm (phoenix dactylifera l.); overview of biology, uses, varieties, and genetics. HortScience 42:1077-1082.
Interpretive Summary: This paper provides an overview of date palm (Phoenix dactlyifera L.) biology, uses,varieties, and genetics. Date palms have been domesticated since ancient times in their area of origin in the MiddleEast. They are now grown in many regions around the world with a suitable climate (arid and hot, with copious ground water). Date production has increased in recent years, particularly in the Middle East, where propagation by tissue culture is common. Date palms have unique biological features and cultural requirements, which are discussed in this paper. In addition, major varieties, breeding efforts, and uses are summarized.
Technical Abstract: Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is one of the oldest fruit crops grown in the arid regions of the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and the Middle East. The exact origin of the date palm is unknown but most probably the area of origin was in or near what is now the country of Iraq. Subsequently, date cultivation has been introduced to many countries. Dates are a major foodsource and income source for local populations in the Middle East and North Africa and play significant roles in the economy, society, and environment in these areas. Worldwide date production has grown from 1,809,091 metric tons in 1962 to 6,924,975 metric tons in 2005. The date palm is a diploid, perennial, dioecious, and monocotyledonous plant adapted to arid environments with special biology, development, propagation, culture and management issues. Throughout the long history of cultivation and utilization of the date palm, every part can be used for different purposes and nothing is wasted. Thousands of date palm varieties exist in different date growing countries. The long life cycle, long period of juvenility, and dioecism of date palms make the breeding challenging. Different genetic marker systems have been used to study genetic relationships among date palm varieties. Date palms currently face production challenges and will do so in the future, but worldwide date production will continue to grow, especially in the Middle East.