The Date Tree.
A TREE of the warmer countries, very unlike those of our part of the world. The trunk is thick and tall, and is all the way up of the same bigness; it has no bark, but is covered with the rudiments of leaves, and the inner part of the trunk when it is young is eatable. At the top of the trunk stand a vast quantity of leaves, some erect and some drooping, and from the bosoms of these grow the flowers and the fruit; but it is remarkable that the flowers grow upon the trees only, and the fruit on some others. If there be not a tree of the male kind, that is a flowering tree near the fruit of the female, it will never naturally ripen. In this case they cut off bunches of the flowers, and shake them over the head of the female tree, and this answers the purpose
All plants have what may be called male and female parts in their flowers. The male parts are certain dusty particles: the female parts are the rudiments of the fruits. In some plants these are in the same flowers as in the tulip. Those black trains which dust the hands are the male part, and the green thing in the middle of them is the female: it becomes afterwards the fruit or seed vessel. In other plants, as melons, and many more, the male parts grow in some flowers, and the female parts in others, on the same plant: and in others, the male flowers and the female grow upon absolutely different plants, but of the same kind. This is the case in the date tree as we see, and it is same though we do not much regard it, in hemp, spinage, and many others.
The fruit of the date is the only part used. It is as thick as a man's thumb and nearly as long, of a sweet taste, and composed of a juicy pulp, in a tender skin, with a stone within it. They are strengthening and somewhat astringent, but we do not much use them.