History of the Palm Tree Name:
Scientific name for a palm tree is composed of 2 parts which are Phoenix and Dectylifera. Some sources of information tell us that Phoenix is a Phoenician word/name that means land of the Palm Tree (Phoenicians were an old Iranian nation who lived in Khorasan and after some time they migrated to areas near the Mediterranean Sea and settled in Lebanon). Dectylifera is a Greek word which indicates the visual properties of the Dates that has been derived from another Greek word, Dektulos. This word means knuckles, and it’s used for Dates because of the similarity of Knuckles to a singular date. In many western sources the word Phoenix is known as the majestic fictional bird, and it visually resembles a Palm tree.
When you look at the Persian history, you see many signs of the Palm tree and its fruit (specially Mazafati Dates). This shows that Dates and Palm trees have always been in our culture in a way that on many Achaemenes seals, alongside lions, chariots and Ahooramazdan you can clearly see Palm trees.
History of Discovering the Palm Tree:
Date fruits are one the oldest fruits that have been discovered by mankind, but history of the Palm tree,dates back to million years ago; because of its nature it grew a lot without needing a lot of resources. However, using the Date fruits how it’s used at present time in Iran dates back to almost 7000 years B.C. The value of Date fruits at Achaemenes times was so high that many historical references tell us how Palm tree owners had to pay taxes for harvesting the fruits (historically these Dates were similar to Mazafati Dates).
Historical Positioning of the Palm Tree:
Generally, if we separate the planet in to two hemispheres, Palm trees have always been growing in the warmer and tropical south hemisphere of the planet, like the middle east and northern Africa which, to this day, the main Date fruit producing and consuming countries like Iran have been located.
As we mentioned, at Achaemenes times the importance of Dates was extremely high. And in many historical books and references, Iran is mentioned as land of the Palm trees. Iranians were known for discovering the Mazafati Dates which are cultivated in a very large scale and exported to countries all around the world. Historically the Persian Jujube Fruit has a lot of similarities to Iranian Mazafati Dates.
Through the 900s A.C Persian Palm trees were taken to China and was cultivated in this county. In general, no countries around the world, at that time, were focusing on the importance of Dates Except for Iran, China and India. The importance of Dates and Palm trees were at their highest at Sassanin times and in many historical books name of this fruit has been used, specially in a book named Bandhashan. This book was about the life at the Sassanid times and in the agricultural section you can see many passages of Dates and Palm trees. Interestingly this book has been translated to Hindi language and read by the Indian people. Therefore, we understand the importance of Dates in Persian history and agriculture.
Consuming Dates in Iranian Culture:
The average consumption of Date fruits in Iran is about 7 kilograms per person in a year. But to be more specific, the residence of southern part of Iran consumes around 25 kilograms per person and in northern parts of Iran is around 1 kilogram per person.
Today, the production variations of Dates in Iran is around 1 million tons a year. The most important variety is Mazafati Dates which the main focus of Iranian Date production and is well known around the world. From this yield, 10% is exported and sold in other countries, 50% is consumed inside the country and sadly 40% due to harvesting and sorting and packing issues are wasted and unused which is a very high number for this valuable fruit.
The value of Date fruits is very high for Iranians and middle eastern residence because of the rough and dry weather of this location. Without the Palm trees, sustaining life was and will be almost impossible.
Palm trees have a special place in history because a lot of nations used its fruit and tree and leaves for sustainability in their lives. We also can see the importance of this tree and its fruit throughout the Persian history. We will try to talk about this amazing and valuable product in the future and focus on Mazafati Dates which is cultivated in Iran in a very high scale and exported to other countries.