Hyphaene thebaica  (L.) Mart. Š Doum palm  - Arecaceae

The nuts of several palms have been used as a substitute for ivory.  From the Nile region nuts of the doum palm, Hyphaene thebaica, were exported to Europe and America to be made into buttons, rosaries and beads.

Pear-shaped fruits have a deep orange woody exterior and fleshy interior that is eaten raw or made into molasses, cakes and sweetmeats.  Also known as the gingerbread palm, its fruits are said to have the consistency and taste of gingerbread.  Elephants eat the fruits and by evacuating the seeds help in the treeÕs distribution.  Seeds, 2 inches long (5 cm.) and 3 inches in circumference (7.5 cm), worn around a camelÕs neck are believed to protect the animal from sickness.

Quantities of the fruits have been found in the tombs of the Pharaohs.  Egyptian writings from 1800 B.C. also mention the fruit.5