KAMAL A. MALIK
Elate sylvestris Linn.
A moderate sized dioecious tree, 7.5-15 m tall, without root suckers, stem clothed with remains of petiole bases. Leaves smaller than the Phoenix dactylifera, 96 cm - 4 m long, greyish green, quite glabrous, pinnately divided into numerous leaflets. Leaflets 15-60 cm long and 8-2.5 cm broad, alternate, opposite or fascicled, in several planes, apex almost sharply pointed; lower leaf-lets modified into hard spines, up to c. 12 cm long, petiole short, glabrous, spiny. Inflorescence and flowers as in the Phoenix dactylifera. Fruit drupe, about 2.5 cm long, orange yellow, rounded at the ends, sweet, edible. Seeds woody, longitudinally grooved on one side
Fl. Per.: March-April. Fr. Per.: August-October.
Lectotype: Katou-Indel of Rheede, Hort. Ind. Malab. 3:15-16, pl. 22-25, 1675-1703. (Vide Martius, Hist. Nat. Palm. 3:270, 273. 1845; Moore & Dransfield in Taxon 28(1, 2/3): 67. 1979).
Distribution: According to Aitchison this wild date palm is indigenous in the Indus basin. It is also cultivated in Sind and Punjab.
Economically this palm is of considerable importance in some parts of Pakistan, particularly as a source of sugar, that is obtained by refining the “gur” or treacle and toddy or “tari”. This raw fluid is extracted from the cuts made in the trunk from which the juice exudes. The leaves are used for making bags and mats. The fruit is eaten as a food and medicine.