Phoenix dactylifera

Common name   Date Palm
Hebrew name   תמר מצוי
أللّغة آلعربيّة   نخيل, نخيل البلح
Family Arecaceae
Leaf form Linear
צורת הגבעול Round
Life form Tree
Distribution in Israel Northern valleys, Carmel, Samarian mountains, Samarian desert, Judean mountains, Judean desert and Dead Sea valley, Ein Gedi, Northern Negev, Negev hills and Eilat, Aravah, Jordan Valley,
Flowering months
Protected Herbal Medicinal allergenic


Date Palm
© Photo: Sara Gold   , December
© All rights reserved.

Additional pictures:

Additional information

Date Palm is a domesticated tree, but it grows wild near springs and in places where the groundwater is close to the surface – in the Arava, the Dead Sea Valley, and the lower Jordan Valley – because it requires warmth and water. The tree originates from the Middle East and Southwest Asia. It is a dioecious evergreen tree.
Its trunk is straight and reaches a height of 10-20 meters. The thickness of the trunk does not change during its entire lifetime. Its width is determined near the growing point.
The trunk is covered by the fibers of old leaves, and carries “palms” at its top, which are actually long leaves.
The leaves are pinnate, palms whose length reaches 2-3 meters. The leaf rachis carries green narrow and pointed leaflets on both sides. The leaflets are lanceolate, pointed at their tip. Every year the tree grows a new group of alternate leaves on the crown. However, they are so close to each other that they appear to be arranged in whorls.
The new and closed leaves serve as palm branches (lulav) for the commandment of the four kinds that is customary on Sukkoth. Upon the appearance of the new leaves, the old leaves are shed from the tree, while leaving their sheaths on the tree.
Blooming occurs in the months of April-May. The inflorescence is a panicle and the flowers are attached to the sheaths (branches) of the panicle. The fruit is a berry with a fleshy and sweet pulp. The date is harvested in August-December. As the branches of the panicle grow, the spathe opens and the large panicles become visible.
The flowers: have 6 tepals, the male flowers have 6 stamens, and the female flowers have a pistil made of 3 carpels (pollination is by wind).
In Hebrew, the word for harvesting dates is gadid.
Vegetarians and naturalists make sure to eat date products. The fruit is eaten fresh and preserved (dried) or in the form of date syrup which is used for eating and cooking. Dates contain a high percentage of potassium, iron and vitamin B.

Written by Udi Michlis


The date, which is one of the seven kinds, and the young branch – the lulav – is one of the four kinds, is considered a noble tree. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon” (Psalms 93: 13).
During antiquity there were large Phoenix dactylifera plantations in the Dead Sea area and in the Lower Galilee. The date was also grown during the Talmud period. This is inferred from Talmudic terms that exist to date, in everything related to the growing of date palms. For example: yad eshkol, sansinim – the long stems that carry the fruits along their length.
After the conquest of the Land of Israel by the Mamluks, many of the plantations were destroyed, and commercial growing of date palms began again only in the 19th century.
The date and its products are mentioned dozens of times in Jewish scriptures, some as metaphors. Regarding the first fruits it is written: “Dates are not brought as first fruits, except dates from Jericho” (Tosefta, Bikkurim 1, 5). The fresh fruits from Jericho were apparently the highest quality.
For fulfilling the commandment of the four kinds: A closed leaf from the center of the tree is taken. The middle leaf must not be split, but must be closed for at least half of its length and for a length of at least 40 cm. It must not be dry or split, and should be as straight as possible.