Date palms have been cultivated for their fruit for more than 5000 years. Although now grown commercially in many countries, the date palm is native to the Middle East where its fruit is held in high esteem and the tree honoured with the title of ‘tree of life’. The Greek word daktulos, meaning ‘finger’, is thought to be the origin of its name, referring to the shape of the fruit. Green when unripe, dates turn pale honey to brown when ripened, though colour, texture and flavour can vary. Common date varieties include medjool, halawy and the highly prized degletnoor.