The date fruit has so many types, and one variety of dates can have so many names in different countries.
Dates belong to a shortlist of the oldest fruits known to man.
In fact, the date palm has been growing along the banks of the most ancient rivers in the Middle East and North Africa for thousands of years.
Like apples and figs, dates go way back to Mesopotamian times.
As such, it is only logical that the first cultivated fruits were developed in a region where we had our first farmers.
Even today, the Middle East is still the hotbed for the production of dates.
Dates are an essential traditional crop in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and North Africa.
What are dates?
Dates are the sweet stone fruits of date palm trees that can grow in almost any tropical region worldwide.
They are called stone fruits because of the single stony pit surrounded by the delectable thick flesh.
The date fruit is sometimes considered nature’s candy because of its intensely sweet flavor.
A date palm tree can grow as tall as 75 feet and produce an average annual yield of 100 to 200 pounds of dates.
The dates grow in clusters, sprouting from several stems that come from the tree.
How many types of dates are there?
Because date palm trees have been cultivated since time immemorial, there is no exact number to quantify the different varieties and cultivars.
There are three main cultivars of dates: soft dates, semi dry dates, and dry dates.
Popular Types of Dates
We have compiled 30 different types of dates sub cultivars coming from other regions around the world.
Keep in mind that almost all dates have a sweet flavor. However, different kinds vary in size, shape, color, pulp texture, and sweetness levels.
Medjool dates are famous for their deep-red color, soft skin, fibrous texture, and rich sweet flavor.
The variety is also known for its large size, sometimes reaching three to four inches long.
This fruit is very moist, and it is perfect for consumption immediately after harvest.
Safawi dates are the black-colored, fleshy dates grown in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
They are recognized for packing in multivitamins and minerals that can lead to a plethora of health benefits.
Safawi date palms are characterized by their high rate of productivity and exceptional quality.
Kalmi dates are the most coveted variation of the Safawi dates because of having a balanced sweet flavor.
This variety of dates also has the same black color as Safawi dates, but they have a small, cylindrical shape, unlike other variations.
Rich in potassium and other trace minerals, Kalmi dates are known to avert health disorders such as diarrhea.
They initially came from Oman but are now widely cultivated in Madinah.
Kalmi dates play an important role during the celebrations of Ramadan.
Saudis consider Ajwah, or Ajwa dates, as a holy fruit. This specific variety holds a special place in Islamic culture.
Several Quranic verses talk about dates as a blessing of Paradise.
Ajwa dates are a highly specialized variety that is grown exclusively in the Al-Madinah region of Saudi Arabia.
They have a very smooth texture in the mouth, and the fruits have white lines on their light to dark brown skin.
The sweet flavor of Halawy dates tends to have the same characteristics as caramel or honey.
Halawy dates have golden-brown skin that appears more wrinkled than other varieties.
The flesh around the pit is quite tender, and it melts in the mouth like a highly delectable candy.
Saidy date palms flourish in hot conditions in Libyan plantations.
Its fruits have a striking golden-brown color, and its chewy flesh has a very subtle sweet flavor.
The Dabbas date is one of the tiniest date fruits around the world.
It has been initially propagated in the United Arab Emirates, and it has spread to other plantations in many regions.
Dabbas dates can be golden or dark brown, and the soft, smooth flesh has a mild sweet flavor.
If you are looking for low-carb dates, the Helwah variety packs the least amount of carbohydrates compared to other types.
Thoory dates are known for their exceptional nutty, sweet flavor. They are a type of dry date that has firm, golden-brown skin.
The flesh is chewy and sticky, but they are not as sticky as other varieties.
Thoory dates are also known as bread dates because their sticky consistency and nutty flavor make them ideal for baking.
Mabroom dates are the premium quality and decadent variety of the fruit.
This variety has a slender shape, and the fruits appear longer than other cultivars.
It is naturally packed with phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and trace minerals.
The fruit is very chewy, and it has a higher level of sweetness.
These loose-skinned fruits originally came from the Al Qaseem and Al Kharj regions of Saudi Arabia.
Khola dates taste like caramel, and they are often paired with coffee.
Kenta dates come from Tunisia, a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa.
This variety of dates have the mildest sweet flavor when compared to all the other types.
The Kenta date is a semi dry date with a light golden color on its attractive wrinkling skin.
The Maktoom date variety is characterized by fruits having very thick, reddish-brown skin and unusually large size.
Maktoom dates are also mildly sweet, making them ideal for those who do not like their dates to be super sweet.
Like Maktoom dates, Iteema dates are relatively large compared to other varieties.
Iteema dates have an amber coloration and an oblong shape, and they come from Algeria.
One of the soft varieties is the Empress date. It has a long, narrow shape with a slightly pointed tip and oblong proportions.
Empress dates are known for their yellow crown, slightly dark yellow to brown skin, and moist and chewy flesh.
If you are looking for sugary dates, the Zahidi variety might be what you want.
The medium sized, semi-dry Zahidi date has a smooth glossy skin with a golden-yellow hue.
The variety typically likened to caramel, butterscotch, brown sugar, and syrup is the Barhi date fruit.
Barhi dates are very fragile, and they are the tiniest dates available.
One of the rare varieties of dates comes from Haleema date palm trees. They are only found in Sokna, Waddan, and Hun in central Libya.
Haleema dates can be brown, amber, or black and are noted for having a soft consistency and less astringency.
Fardh or Fard Dates
Oman is famous for the Fard date variety.
The fruit has a tiny pit, tender, dark brown skin, and a distinctive sweet flavor.
Another variety of dates from the Madinah region of Saudi Arabia is the amber-colored Ambera date.
Considered to be one of the finest varieties, they have a soft flesh and a larger size than most Madinah cultivars.
Derrie or Dayri Dates
Dayri dates are oblong fruits very similar to Barhi dates, but they can be medium- to large-sized.
The red skin and soft flesh will turn golden brown after curing or drying.
Hayani dates come from Egypt, and they are available all year.
It has a dark brown to black color, and it features an elongated shape and a meaty, sweet flavor.
Another semi dry date variety is the Piarom date palm.
It produces long, slender fruits with dark skin and toffee- or caramel-flavored flesh.
Migraf dates are popular in Southern Yemen for their exceptional quality.
Their colors range from golden brown to amber, and they have a reasonably large size compared to other varieties.
You can distinguish Sag’ai dates from other varieties by their crisp skin and overall brown color with yellow tips.
Sag’ai dates come from Riyadh, and they belong to the dry varieties of dates.
Deglet Noor Dates
Deglet Noor dates are semi-dry dates with a delicate sweet flavor and deep brown skin.
Like the Thoory variety, Deglet Noor dates are excellent for cooking.
The light golden Sukkari dates are considered to be the queen of all dates.
It is a high-quality variety with a sweet flavor and a crisp texture.
Khadrawi or Khadrawy Dates
The soft but firm fruits of the Khadrawy dates have an orange-brown hue and a distinctive sweet flavor.
Khadrawy dates are best eaten as soon as they are picked because they do not keep well compared to other varieties.
Khudri dates have a dark brown to black color that makes them look like enlarged raisins.
This variety is relatively cheap, and it can stay fresh for extended periods.
Mazafati dates are initially from Kerman, Iran.
They are soft, fleshy dates with yellow to dark brown skin and a hint of brown sugar in their sweet flavor.
Other Less Popular Types
The following is a list of other date cultivars grown in different parts of the world.
- Mgmaget Ayuob
- Abid Rahim
- Ftimi or Alligue
- Amir Hajj or Amer Haj
Which dates are good for health?
High-quality dates possess more characteristics that are beneficial to health.
While most varieties pack a specific amount of sugars, other types contain more nutrients, antioxidants, and fibers.
The Ajwah, Dayri, and Medjool dates have been proven to have the best quality.
There are so many types of dates worldwide, and new varieties can come from palm trees growing in privately owned gardens and propagation farms.
Moreover, new varieties continuously emerge from date palms introduced into different countries.
California, Arizona, and some other US States have date palm plantations. And they grow the same varieties that came from the Middle East.
Dates have been widely propagated since its first cultivation, and the number of sub cultivars now reach more than 1,500.