The Judean Date Palm Lives Again

The only living Judean date palm, at Kibbutz Ketura, Israel. Photograph by Benjitheijneb
The only living Judean date palm, at Kibbutz Ketura, Israel, photograph by Benjitheijneb via Wikimedia

The Judean date palm was a plant of great economic and cultural importance in the ancient Mediterranean. It grew extensively in Judea where it provided shade for people and livestock and its fruit was used for food and medicine. By the modern period, devastation in war and a changing climate had wiped out the trees. Then in the 1960s a two-thousand-year-old seed cache turned up in excavations at the palace of Herod the Great. The seeds sat in storage for another forty years until an attempt was made to cultivate some of them. Amazingly, one of the seeds germinated and grew. In a few more years, we get to find out what ancient Judean dates tasted like. If further efforts to breed the Judean palm with some of its nearest living relatives are successful, modern Judean date palms could return to the Mediterranean.

This story is a few years old, but I only stumbled across it recently. It’s wonderful that some things we once thought lost can come back.

Geeks eat, too! Second Breakfast is an occasional feature in which we talk about food with geeky connections and maybe make some of our own. Yum!