Botanical Name: Phoenix sylvestris
Species: P. sylvestris
*Elate sylvestris L.
*Elate versicolor Salisb.
Common Names: Silver date palm, Indian date, Sugar date palm or Wild date palm
Phoenix sylvestris is native to India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh. It is also reportedly naturalized in Mauritius, the Chagos Archipelago, Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands. Growing in plains and scrubland up to 1300 m above sea level, the fruit from this palm species is used to make wine and jelly. The sap is tapped and drunk fresh or fermented into toddy. The fresh sap is boiled to make palm jaggery in West Bengal state of India and Bangladesh.
Phoenix sylvestris ranges from 4 to 15 m in height and 40 cm in diameter; not as large as the Canary Island Date Palm, but nearly so, and resembling it. The leaves are 3 m long, gently recurved, on 1 m petioles with acanthophylls near the base. The leaf crown grows to 10 m wide and 7.5 to 10 m tall containing up to 100 leaves. The inflorescence grows to 1 metre with white, unisexual flowers forming to a large, pendent infructescence. The single-seeded fruit ripens to a purple-red colour.
It requires a mean annual rainfall in the range 40–70 cm for growth, but it can survive with a minimal rainfall. P. sylvestris grows in a wide range of soil types, preferably sandy, well drained and moist. It can grow in a pH range of 5.5–7.5, and it can tolerate pH from 5 to 8.
Propagation:Through Seed – probably best sown as soon as it is ripe in containers, otherwise sow the seed as soon as you obtain it. Germination usually takes place within 2 – 3 months.
Fruit. A sweet flavour. Sometimes eaten. Of a very inferior character.
Sap – it can be concentrated into a syrup or fermented into alcohol. One of the main sources of sugar in Bengal. The sap is obtained from the unopened inflorescence. The tip of this is cut off and the sap then flows from this cut. The flow can be up to 5 litres a day for several months, it contains about 14% sugar.
This is available in wiinter season in Bengal.
The pith of the stem is sometimes harvested and made into a kind of sago.
The fruit is useful in the treatment of heart complaints, abdominal complaints, fevers, vomiting and loss of consciousness.
The fruit pounded and mixed with almonds, quince seeds, pistachio nuts and sugar, forms a restorative remedy.
A paste made from the seed, combined with the root of Achyranthes aspera, is chewed with betel leaves (Areca catechu) as a remedy for ague.
The juice obtained from the tree is considered to be a cooling beverage.
The roots are used to stop toothache.
The central tender part of the plant is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea.
The fibrous leaves are used in weaving for making bags, baskets, brooms, fans, mats etc.
The fibre obtained from the leaves is plentiful, soft, bleaches well, and is admirably adapted for paper-making.
The fibrous leaf petioles are beaten and twisted into ropes which are traditionally used for drawing water from wells.The stems are used for thatching when making local houses. Sometimes the heard stem is used in village pond steps to go down on water.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.