Israeli scientists have successfully germinated a 2000-year-old date palm seed that has now grown into a sapling. Scientists say the ancient Biblical tree has properties that could have applications in medicine.
Israeli scientists are excited about this date palm's medicinal possibilities. Researchers at the Louis Borick Natural Medicine Center in Jerusalem grew it from a 2000-year-old seed. It and other seeds were found in the desert at Masada, the archeological site famous in Jewish history.
Dr. Sara Sallon, who led the project to resurrect the seeds, describes a colleague's reaction when the plant began to grow. "She said, 'There is a little green tip coming out of the crack', and we were kind of, 'What?' So, I just said, 'Just keep doing what you are doing'."
The palm is named "Methuselah," after the Biblical figure, who was said to have lived 969 years.
Dr. Sallon said these are the oldest seeds ever germinated. ?Historically, of course, it is fascinating to wake up something that has been asleep for so long, and the whole area that this opens up, that if you can wake up a seed after 2000 years, and get it to grow, there are a lot of possibilities in that area that we can also explore."
Dr.Sallon said the ancient date palm was used to fight infection, as a fertility treatment, and even as an aphrodisiac. She and her colleagues hope the palm still retains its medicinal properties.
The plant's D-N-A structure is being analyzed to find out. If the plant survives, and is a female, it will take nearly 30 years before it bears any dates. If it turns out to be a male, it will not bear fruit but will still be a curiosity to scientists.