Date-palm is a tree of the Phoenix dactylifera of the palm family. The date-palm grows about 23 metres (75 ft) tall and its stem is strongly marked with pruned stubs of old leaf bases, terminates in a crown of graceful, shining, pinnate leaves about 5 metres long. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. Under cultivation, the female flowers are artificially pollinated. The date is a one-seeded fruit or berry usually oblong but varying in shape, size,colour, quality and consistency of flesh according to the condition of culture. More than 1000 dates may appear in a single bunch weighing 8 kg or more. The dried fruit is more than 50% sugar by weight and contains about 2% each of protein, fat and mineral water. Syrup, alcohol, vinegar and strong liquor are derived from the fruit. The sap is also used as a beverage either fresh or fermented but because the method of 'extraction seriously injures the palm, only those trees that produce little fruit are used for sap. When a palm is cut down, the tender terminal bud is eaten as salad. Date-sugar, a commercial product of India, is obtained from the sap of a closely related species Phoenix sylvestris.
The fresh fruit is nutritious, tonic and mild laxative. It contains vitamins A and B, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus and alkaloids. Its infusion with milk is nourishing and restorative tonic; for this reason it is given during convalescence from fevers and small-pox. The fruit is very good for cough and cold, asthma, laryngitis, chest complaints, fevers, dysentery and liver complaints. Taking dates with milk early in the morning during winter months is found to be a better tonic than other ordinary tonics and is very easily available at that time. Syrup prepared from dates is also useful in cases of diarrhoea, marasmus, diabetes insipidus.
Benefit and uses of Dates.
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