fresh dates and pollination

Emerging female flowers of the date palm

The arrival of date season brings an abundance of fresh dates and many varieties of this delicious fruit are available in shops, markets and stalls across the Island. Being a bit of a food stalker, these photographs were taken at different times throughout the year and like the lemon tree,  I wanted to share the incredible magic of mother nature.

February: Having date palms in the garden makes date season magical…  witnessing the first cluster of flowers emerge (shown above) among the fronds of the female date palm… to the growing and ripening stages of this sweet-sticky delectable fruit.

A cut branch of male flowers containing pollen

Hand pollination of a date palm

Male date palms do not produce any fruit, however their flowers contain pollen which enable the female date palm to produce fruit when pollinated.
March: In the photograph above hand-pollination is taking place… smearing male flowers (containing pollen) over the female flowers. Also tying a few strands of male flowers among the female flowers.

Pollinated fruit beginning to grow

Pruning a date palm

March: A couple of weeks after pollination fruit starts to form and will continue to grow, mature and ripen over a period of months!
Date palms and the growing fruit need pruning and tidying and the meager garden sheers will definitely not be up for the job…  some special tools are definitely required. With his knowledge and years of experience with palm trees… Bu Ahmed arrives with his climbing harness and scythe… and this is where my gardening skills truly end!

Climbing harness for palm trees

 Bare-foot and attached by a harness, Bu Ahmed climbs the palm tree, quickly pruning away sharp thorny spikes from the lower fronds and tidying its trunk… making it all look so effortless!

Tying cluster of un-ripe dates

May:  Pulling and tying down the heavy laden branches with un-ripened fruit makes the fruit easier to reach when ripe and at the same time beautifying the tree.

Some thinning of the fruit clusters had been necessary and cutting away parts of the clusters encourage dates to reach maximum growth, also ensures better air-flow around the fruit. Thankfully nothing every goes to waste with a palm tree and the wheelbarrow full of cuttings with un-ripened fruit is used for cattle feed!

June: Different varieties of dates  (mentioned in an earlier post) develop their own characteristic colours while ripening, shown in the photographs above and below.

July – August: Some dates have ripened (very quickly) and this is where all the sweetness begins… ! Most will be shared among family and friends, some enjoyed simply as they are, others used with cake and dessert recipes and some frozen for later use.

What is your favourite date recipe?

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