Selecting, cleaning and preparing palm seeds for planting

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Tommy Tips  

Selecting, cleaning and preparing palm seeds for planting

Often asked how one grows palms from seeds the following will tell and show you how I did so with Iraqi Medjool Date Palm seeds. 

But first a bit of historical trivia.

The botanical name of the date palm, Phoenix dactylifera , is thought to have derived from the Phoenician name “phoenix”, which means date palm, and “dactylifera” derived from a Greek word “daktulos” meaning a finger

Actually, there aremore than 3,000 varietiesof Date Palms all over the world.  There are at least 400 in Iran, somewhere from 370 to 460 varieties in Iraq, some 250 in Tunisia, 244 – or so – in Morocco.

But beyond close relatives of the Date Palms coming from the Mediterranean countries, Africa, and part of Asia, but a few of their kin include Canary Palms from the Canary Islands and Cape Verde, Dwarf Palms from Senegal and Uganda in Africa and Yemen, Sugar Palms from India and Pakistan and Pygmy Palms from India, Ceylon and Annam

But, as regards those many different date palms – as I understand it – most of their fruits are sucrose based with only a very few being fructose based and one need not be a nutritionist to know that the latter is much better for us!

So with no little zeal I undertook to select the best Medjool Date seeds I could find from mature palms Saddam Hussein had brought to his many palaces in the Sunni central Iraq area from the Shiaa Basrah region down south.  My Iraqi friends had told me that in their country they had very low germination – often as small as but three percent of those planted.  They also informed me that it would take six to eight years after the seed sprouted before I could possibly expect dates.

In my initial test plot in Mexico, of the 100 seeds I planted, 97 sprouted – a success rate rather than failure rate of 97%!  And, of the several that I then moved from their germination pots to the ground, I realized fresh dates – from the female plants – within two years!  Ha!  So much for not having success with them in Mexico!

Now to the process of finding and preparing Medjool Date Palm seeds for planting:

 1.   Select only good, fully ripened dates that have fallen from the tree to the ground.  Inspect them for insect or animal gnawings, discard such and keep only the unblemished ones.

 2.      Clean them, by hand, of all of the succulent “meat” that surrounds the seed.

 3.      Under fresh running water rub the seeds against themselves to abrate additional any lingering “meat.

 4.      Sun dry, turning every hour or so all day.

 5.      Repeat Steps three and four two more times.

 6.      Once fully cleaned and sun dried store in air tight bag until ready for planting.

 I’ve read that the homeless, roaming Bedouin tribesmen roast Date “beans” as a coffee supplement.  Here’s my recipe for such – though I have yet to try it and, hence, do not make any claim as to its veracity or usefulness! 

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Select only good, fully ripened dates that have fallen from the tree to the ground. Inspect them for insect or animal gnawings, discard such and keep only the unblemished ones.

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Clean them, by hand, of all of the succulent “meat” that surrounds the seed.

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Under fresh running water rub the seeds against themselves to abrate additional any lingering “meat.

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Sun dry, turning every hour or so all day.

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Once fully cleaned and sun dried store in air tight bag until ready for planting.