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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Palm Tree Grown From a 2,000-year-old Date Stone

The Guardian recently published an article about a palm tree that is growing from a 2,000 yar-old date stone (pictured here in its current state).

Palm tree grown from 2,000-year-old date stone

An ancient seed that germinated after being recovered from the rubble of King Herod's pleasure palace has been dated as 2,000 years old, smashing the record for the oldest seed ever grown.
The seed was among three recovered during excavations at Masada, an imposing 2,044-year-old clifftop fortress on the edge of the Judean desert overlooking the Dead Sea.

Researchers planted the seed three years ago after treating it with hormone-laced fertilisers. To their surprise, it germinated and began to grow. The plant, dubbed the "Methuselah tree" after the oldest character in the Bible, now stands 1.5m tall.

Dates were such an important export from ancient Judea they were depicted on coins and came to symbolise the region. According to the historian Josephus, miles and miles of hand-cultivated date forests stretched from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. Read more

A team of researchers led by Sarah Sallon, director of the Louis Borick Natural Medicine Research Centre at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem wrote about this in the journal Science.

Listen to an interview with Sarah Sallon on the germination, genetics, and growth of this ancient date seed here. This interview goes to the medicinal use of historical plants, as in the case of dates for their anti-biotic and anti-cancer, etc. treatment properties.

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