The cultivation of date palms in Egypt goes back thousands of years. The date palm tree has great socioeconomic importance and nutritional value in Egypt. Ancient date pits have been found during archeological digs and palm trunks have been used to construct ancient temples. Dates were a popular and important source of food for the Middle Eastern people because they dried and stored well, were light, and were satisfying and delicious. Dates were also highly prized by royalty. The fruit was commonly traded and date palm tree orchards grew throughout the Middle East. Later trading spread the palm trees to Northeast Africa and Eastern Mediterranean regions.
The Moors introduced dates to Spain, who in turn introduced the trees to South America, Mexico and California in the 18th and 19th centuries during missions. Descendants of these trees still grow there today. However, most of the commercially produced dates in California actually came later directly from the Middle East. California is the major producer of dates for the United States.