Monday, October 14, 2013

Sci-Tech watch, 5: Extinct Judaean date palm grow again -- from 2,000 year old seeds

3,000 years ago, the Judaean date palm was so famed for the sweetness of its fruit that King David named his daughter Tamar in its honour. But, after the Roman suppression of Jewish uprisings, it dwindled out into extinction c AD 500. 

However, it seems in 2005 someone tried the experiment of planting 2,000 year old seeds found in the 1960's. 

Sweet success:

Tree-hugger comments:

During excavations at the site of Herod the Great's palace in Israel in the early 1960's, archeologists unearthed a small stockpile of seeds stowed in a clay jar dating back 2,000 years. For the next four decades, the ancient seeds were kept in a drawer at Tel Aviv's Bar-Ilan University. But then, in 2005, botanical researcher Elaine Solowey decided to plant one and see what, if anything, would sprout.
"I assumed the food in the seed would be no good after all that time. How could it be?" said Solowey. She was soon proven wrong . . . . 

Today, the living archeological treasure continues to grow and thrive; In 2011, it even produced its first flower -- a heartening sign that the ancient survivor was eager to reproduce. It has been proposed that the tree be cross-bred with closely related palm types, but it would likely take years for it to begin producing any of its famed fruits. [HT: UD News]
Nothing beats a try but a fail, it seems. And with luck, maybe some cloning and pollination, we may yet see this crop restored. I wonder if this can be done to the straight-growing varieties of the once famous Jamaican mahogany tree, harvested out over the centuries to make fine furniture. (Reportedly, only the crookedly growing ones are left.) END