Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)

This fruit is native to China but has been cultivated in Japan for over 1000 years.  It is now cultivated around the world.  It is sometimes known as Japanese plum but it is not a plum!  The tree is fast growing to about 20-30 foot, has large, thick, evergreen leaves up to a foot long.  New growth has a fuzzy texture, as does the underside of the leaves, and the blooms.  Flowers appear in early winter and have a very pleasant spicy fragrance.

The yellow-pale orange fruit matures in 3 to 4 months in clusters on the ends of the branches.  A tree in full fruit is a very attractive sight.  The fruit is about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and contains one or two large brown seeds that separate easily from the edible portion.  The flesh is very juicy and has a flavor something like a slightly tart apple.
Loquats grow in USDA Zones 7 through 10 and are drought tolerant once established.  The foliage can withstand temperatures of 15° F for short periods of time. 
Young trees have a very open branching structure but will become more dense with time.  Most trees found in landscapes are seedlings but named varieties are available that have been selected for their improved fruit qualities.  The varieties vary by ripening time, skin color, fruit size, and sweetness or tartness.
Fruit can be eaten fresh, dried, or in jams, preserves, or pies!


NanaK said...

I love loquats. In fact, I'm going today to pick some from my friend's tree which produces tons. I make freezer jam according to the apricot recipe on the sure-jell package and use it for a grill sauce on fish, chicken and porkchops. It's good as jam too. I'll have to try a pie :)

Helen at summerhouse said...

Too bad I would never be able to grow these. Such a beautiful bloom and fruit too.