DATE PALM VARIETIES
History: In 1936, D.G. Sniff discovered Abada growing in Brawley, California. The varietal name was created out of the first names of Sniff and his wife, Abby and Dana. Most of the offshoots were sold to Sunnipalms, a commercial date garden near Indio, California, where there were 18 palms of Abada in production in 1955.
The palm resembles that of Deglet Noor but has shorter fruitstalks. The fruit are subject to checking in long, narrow, transverse apical lines. Carpenter (1979) noted that Abada had characters desirable for date breeding, including attractive, glossy black fruit with a frost-like bloom.
Synonyms: Amir Haj, Mirhage
Meaning: “Leader of the Pilgrimage”
History: A soft date and long reputed to be one of the best dates in northern Iraq. (Fairchild 1903; Popenoe 1913), Amir Hajj originated at Mandali Oasis, which is said to be the source of more good date varieties that any other locality in Iraq. Commonly referred to as “the visitor’s date,” it is generally presented to guests and much of the crop was exported as gifts from the people of Mandali to their friends. Nixon introduced Amir Hajj in 1929 and most of the offshoots were planted in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Later plantings were made at Indio, California.
Synonyms: Ascherasi, Asharasi
Meaning: Uncertain: “Hard” – (Dowson 1939) and “Tall Growing” (Popenoe 1913)
History: A few offshoots of this variety were introduced from northern Iraq in 1902 by Fairchild. There were also some offshoots in the Popenoe importation of 1913. Only a few scattered palms are to be found in commercial gardens. Ashrasi is an excellent semi-dry which has a good record of surviving occasional rains and high humidity with little damage.
Synonyms: Bedraya, Bedraihe, Badrahi, Badraihi, Badurahi
Meaning: “Of Badrah” – An oasis in Iraq near the Iranian border (Dowson 1939)
History: The Badrayah is a large, dry date, well known and highly esteemed in northern Iraq, but not extensively grown, occuring chiefly in the oases of Badrah and Mandali. The palm has some resemblance to Zahidi but differs in less-glaucous leaves, more yellowish leaf bases with wide bands of fiber across them.
Synonyms: Barhee, Berhi, Burhi
Meaning: Uncertain: Poponoe (1913) associated the name with hots summer winds (barh) at Barsra, Iraq, which purportedly have some effect on fruit maturity.
History: Paul Poponoe introduced Barhi, a soft date, in 1913 from Basra, Iraq. In 1902 at Tempe, Arizona, David Fairchild had introduced some offshoots under the name of Berhi; these later proved to be Braim or Burayam, but the name Berhi was still applied to these palms in the Salt River Valley of Arizona as late as 1950. By 1946, there were about 900 Barhee palms, all in California’s Coachella Valley.
Synonyms: Betamoda, Bartomoda, Bartamuda
Origin: From Dongola Province, Sudan
History: Bentamoda is a superb Dessert fruit. Classed by Brown and Bahgat as a dry date, it is just slightly drier than Deglet Noor and is somewhat similar in size and shape.
Synonyms: Dairee, Dairi
Meaning: “The Monastery Date” (Popenoe 1913)
History:A semi-dry date intoduced from Basra, Iraq, in 1913 by Paul Popenoe. Dayri was accidentally mixed with other varieties, but as the palms came into bearing they attracted attention because of the size, color and quality of the fruit. Erroneously grown under the names of Awaidi and Hawazi, two rare varieties from southern Iraq, the palm was finally and positively identified by Nixon as Dayri in 1928 (Nixon 1934). By 1946 there were about 200 Dayri palms in the Salt River Valley of Arizona and 225 in California, more evenly split between the Coachella and Bard Valleys.
Synonyms: Deglet Nour, Deglet Nur
Meaning: Uncertain: “Date of the light” (Poponoe 1913)
History: The most widely planted and commercially important date variety in the United States, Deglet Noor originated in Algeria in the late 1600s (Swingle 1904) where it soon became recognized as a superior date. A semi-dry date, its fruit were well known in European markets at the time. It was introduced into the United States at Tempe, Arizona, in 1900, and four years later some of the plants were brought to the Coachella Valley in California. It was soon evident that Deglet Noor produced much better fruit in California than in Arizona. Demand for offshoots rose dramatically and was so strong that commercial growers in California made several large importations of offshoots from North Africa from 1911 to 1921. Today, Deglet Noor still accounts for about 70 percent total date production in California.
Origin: Oman (Musqat)
Meaning: “Of the New Moon” (Dowson 1939) – “Moonbeams” (Popenoe 1913)
History: A variety obtained in 1902 from Musqat by Fairchild. From one original palm, several specimens have been propagated at Indio and in a few privately owned variety collections. Hilali is a rare variety, reputed to be highly esteemed in Oman. Dowson listed the variety as rare in southern Iraq. It produces soft dates of good quality, outstanding because of the very late ripening. At Indio, it begins ripening about the time the harvesting of late varieties like Barhi and Maktoom is being completed and frequently carries its fruit into January and February.
Synonyms: Halawi, Hallawi, Hellawi
Meaning: “Sweet” (Dowson 1939)
History: A soft date, David Fairchild introduced Halawy in 1902 from Northern Iraq. As with other varieties from that region, though, most of the commercial plantings of Halawy in the United States are traceable to Paul Poponoe’s 1913 introduction. By 1946, there were about 45 acres of Halawy in California and 30 acres in Arizona. One of the most common varieties in southern Iraq, Halawy was generally regarded as one of the best varieties shipped in quantity from Basra, Iraq, to European and American markets.
Meaning: From Hayan, a man’s name (Martius 1823) – probably the owner of the original palm.
History: A soft date introduced by Fairchild in 1901 from Egypt, Hayany was the most extensively planted and important commercial date variety in Lower Egypt. Nearly all U.S. commercial plantings of Hayany were confined to the Arizona’s Salt River Valley, where about 30 acres were grown in 1946. Some palms of this variety were erroneously carried under the name Birket el Haggi in Arizona in the early 1900’s (Mason 1927).
Synonyms: Khadrawi, Khadhrawi, Khudrawee
Meaning: Green (Dowson 1939), referring either to the often-characteristic greenish cast of the just-softening fruit or to the rather distinctive bright green petiole/rachis and leaf base (Poponoe 1913)
History: Although Fairchild introduced Khadrawy, a soft date, in 1902 from Basrah, Iraq, the commercials plantings can be traced to introductions made by Poponoe in 1913. By 1946 there were 183 acres in California (Byrd, Blair, and Phillips 1947) and about 105 acres in Arizona. In Iraq, there are two varieties that go under the name Khadrawy. The more common and important one, known simply as Khadrawy, is from the Basrah region in the southern part of the country and is one of the primary varieties in that area. The other variety is from Baghdad and the northern Iraq and goes under the name Khadrawy of Baghdad. This is an entirely different palm, although its fruit is very similar to that of the Basrah Khadrawy.
Synonyms: Khalaseh, Khalasi, Khalas, Khulas, Khlas
Origin: Saudi Arabia
Meaning: “Quintessence” (Poponoe 1913) – “Choice” (Dowson 1939)
History: Highly esteemed for its fruit, reputed to be the most delicious in the world; has received much lavish praise for excellent quality and flavor; fruit cure and keep well, although sometimes consumed in the khalal stage; fruit appearance suffers from rain, but fruit are not subject to damage from humid weather.
Origin: Saudi Arabia
History: The Khir is an early-ripening soft date of some merit, and it has favorably impressed those who know it. It has not been seriously damaged by occasional rains and high humidity. The original offshoots from 1904 were kept in a greenhouse over winter in Arizona and planted out the following spring, part at Tempe and part at Mecca. There is no record that any offshoots survived with the exception of two, both bearing the label “Khir”. One palm at Indio (1-15-1905), is a descendant of the Mecca specimen, which has been dead for some years. A number of palms tracing back to Tempe 20-14 are growing in commercial date gardens in the Salt River Valley. Because of the confusion of the labels in the original importation and the lack of any descriptive data from the Old World, the identity of the variety is uncertain.
Meaning: “Fruit-bearing Palm” (Dowson 1939); “The Abundant Producer” (Popenoe 1913)
History: Roy Nixon introduced this medium sized, soft date in 1929 from Basra, Iraq, where it was highly valued because of its very late ripening date. It was first grown in Welasco and Winter Haven, Texas, and at Indio, California. In Texas, this late ripening is an extreme handicap. In southern California and in Arizona, it may have specimen value because of carrying fruit during the tourist season after other varieties have been harvested.
Synonyms: Medjhool, Medjehuel, Majhul (also Tafilalet, Tafilelt, or Tafilat from the name of the district where it was first grown.)
Meaning: Unknown History: For at least two reasons, Medjool merits a more detailed account than some other varieties. It has become a very important variety to the date industry in recent years and its history is somewhat unusual. Of an estimated 3,000 date varieties grown world-wide (Dowson 1982), Medjool is the most desirable because of its large size, soft flesh, excellent taste, and attractive appearance. All Medjools originate from a single palm in the Bou Denib oasis (Zaid 2002) in the Tafilalet region of Saharan Morocco. Medieval Arabic travelers extolled the very high quality of dates of that region, especially the Medjool, and in the 17th century, most of the dates brought to Europe came from the Tafilalet. Apparently, at that time, the names Tafilalet and Medjool were interchangeable (Popenoe 1912, 1973), hence the origin of the name.
Synonyms: Samani, Samiani, Rashedi
Meaning: Said to be named for a village (Poponoe 1913)
History: Introduced from Egypt in 1925 by Mason, Samany was regarded as one of the best dates of Lower Egypt although it was confined to just two localities, Edku and Rashid (Rosetta) (Mason 1915). Samany is a large, soft date, attractive in appearance in the khalal or early rutab stages, but disappointing in the later stages of ripening at which most of the fruit would be consumed in the United States.
Synonyms: Sayir, Saiir, Sai, Ista’amran, Usta Imran, Sta’amran, Sa’amran, Sambran, ‘Amran
Meaning: Common, found everywhere (Bonavia 1885)
History: A soft date, Fairchild introduced Sayer from Iraq in 1902. Poponoe imported additional offshoots in 1913, but few survived. By 1946, there were about 300 palms in Arizona’s Salt River Valley but only a few palms in California. According to Dowson (1923), Sayer was the most common variety in southern Iraq. The fruit were extensively exported and were the principle variety among the cheap, soft, imported dates first sold in the United States. Dowson (2923) recognized two strains of Sayer. In one, khalal fruit are solid yellow, while in the other there are yellow flushed with pink. Only the latter type is grown in Arizona and California.
Synonyms: Thuri, Tsuri, Thauri
Meaning: “The Bull’s Date” (Popenoe 1913)
History: Although Swingle introduced Thoory, a dry date, form Algeria in 1900, the commercial plantings can be traced to a few offshoots that accompanied large Deglet Noor importations that Bernard Johnson brought in 1912. By 1946, there were about 580 Thoory palms in California’s Coachella and Imperial Valleys and only a few in Arizona’s Salt River Valley, where they had been confused with another, inferior dry date, Mesh Degla.
Synonyms: Zahdi, Zadie, Zaydi, Zehedi, Zaheedy
Meaning: Uncertain, perhaps of a small quantity (Dowson 1939), or nobility (Poponoe 1913)
History: David Fairchild introduced Zahidi, a semi-dry date, in 1902 from northern Iraq. As with other varieties from that region, though, most of the commercial plantings of Zahidi in the United States are traceable to Paul Poponoe’s 1913 introduction. By 1946, there were 183 acres of Zahidi in California (Byrd, Blair, and Phillips 1947); all but 30 acres were in the Coachella Valley, with an estimated 25 acres in Arizona, nearly all in the Salt River Valley. Zahidi is the most common date variety in Northern Iraq and is more widely distributed than any other variety in that country. Some Iraqis believe that Zahidi and Kustawy were the original varieties from which all others derived.
DATE PALM INFORMATION SOURCE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE “IMPORTED VARIETIES OF DATES IN THE UNITED STATES”
BY: ROY W. NIXON – HORTICULTURIST – JULY, 1950