Khejur or Indian date, Phoenix sylvestris
Khejur or Indian date (Phoenix sylvestris, Arecaceae) is a tall and erect tree with full of thorns, attaining a height of 15-16 m. Its rounded trunk is full of innumerable scales. Extraordinary winged leaves and long trunk have made the tree a beautiful palm tree. It is truly an extraordinary palm. It is found almost everywhere in Bangladesh. It is originated in Indian subcontinent. As an ornamental tree, it can be planted on the side of roads, in the garden and parks.
Leaves are big, pinnate, 3 m long, Leaf blade 15-20 cm long, 3 cm wide, very acute at the end. Rachis holds very acute thorns that arise from leaf axil. This is the effort of the tree to protect the flowers and fruits in adverse conditions.
Female and male flowers are in separate trees. Male flowers are in smaller inflorescence than females, white, scented. Female flowers whitish green in longer inflorescence. The flowers are covered with big sheath-like bract. Flowering occurs in winter.
The fruits of this tree like Asian palmyra palm, Betel nut, Coconut are also plentiful. Fruits are edible, oval shaped, 3 cm long, containing thin flesh. Immature fruits are yellow-orange, dark purple when ripe. These are single-seeded. It is hard, brownish. In summer it bear fruits. The propagation of the plant is caused by seeds.
It is very rare in our country to find the intact body of this tree. Because, a finest kind of sweet and delicious extract is available from this tree. And to get this extract a special part of the tree has to be cut down. In this process the leaves also have to be cut off. As a result, we are deprived of the amazing beauty of the tree.
This extract is used to make high quality molasses. In addition, cakes, pies, payesh, etc. are made with this. It is also used as a stimulant in some places. It contains vitamin A and B and carbohydrate, protein, fat.
Its fruits are used in stomach ache, fever and heart disease. Floor mats can be made from its leaves. The thorn at the tip of leaf is used to make cakes to the right shape. It can be planted as avenue tree. By the by, this native fruit is not as good in size and taste as the famous Date (Phoenix dactylifera).
Synonyms: Elate sylvestris, Elate versicolor