Date Palm Flower

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

date palm flower an interesting food item which is found in the markets of date-producing countries and has been described as follows by Iddison (personal communication, 1996), writing in the United Arab Emirates:

The flowers of a date palm appear in the January–February period. The flowers of the male palms are a minor commercial commodity, appearing in the markets for pollination purposes. The enclosing sheath or spadix should be intact or only just splitting for this purpose. Fortunately this is also the condition in which the flower is edible and it is common for farmers to reduce the number of flowers on a female palm to improve date size and quality. In the Al Ain market the female flowers were on sale for consumption and were more common than the male flowers. They weighed 300–400 grammes and the tough sheath enclosed a cramped mass of flower buds. These could be rubbed off the spikelets and were tried as a salad with a little lemon dressing as recommended by Popenoe (1913). There was no distinctive flavour apart from a slight astringency. Local people eat the flowers pounded together with small dried fish, gashr, as a dip for bread.