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There is archeological evidence of date cultivation in Mehrgarh around 7000 BCE, a Neolithic civilization in what is now western Pakistan.Evidence of cultivation is continually found throughout later civilizations in the Indus Valley, including the Harappan period 2600 to 1900 BCE.They are believed to have originated around what is now Iraq, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt.The Ancient Egyptians used the fruits to make date wine, and ate them at harvest.Date palms can take 4 to 8 years after planting before they will bear fruit, and start producing viable yields for commercial harvest between 7 and 10 years.Mature date palms can produce 150–300 lb (70–140 kg) of dates per harvest season, although they do not all ripen at the same time so several harvests are required.A date palm cultivar, probably what used to be called Judean date palm, is renowned for its long-lived orthodox seed, which successfully sprouted after accidental storage for 2000 years.The leaves are 4–6 metres (13–20 ft) long, with spines on the petiole, and pinnate, with about 150 leaflets.
Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East and the Indus Valley for thousands of years.Dates contain a single stone about 2–2.5 cm (0.8–1.0 in) long and 6–8 mm (0.2–0.3 in) thick. The type of fruit depends on the glucose, fructose, and sucrose content.Three main cultivar groups of date exist: soft (e.g. In 2009, a team of researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar published a draft version of the date palm genome (Khalas variety).Most commercial plantations thus use cuttings of heavily cropping cultivars.Plants grown from cuttings will fruit 2–3 years earlier than seedling plants.
The leaflets are 30 cm (12 in) long and 2 cm (0.79 in) wide.