The handsome date palm flourishes in the desert climates of the Middle East and North Africa and in Southern California. The buttery rich fruits grow in large bunches containing up to a thousand dates. Varying from oval to elongated, they have a paper-thin skin and a long pit. Dates are classified as soft, semidry or dry, according to their moisture content. Medjool, Khadrawy and Halawy are the commonly marketed soft dates. Deglet Noor and Zahidy are the most popular semidry dates. Whole and pitted dates are available year-round.