LOQUAT

 

(Eriobotrya japonica) Also known as Japanese plum, Loquat is a large evergreen shrub or small tree, with a rounded crown, short trunk and woolly new twigs. The tree can grow 10-16 ft. The fruit begins to ripen during Spring to Summer depending on the temperature on the area. The leaves are alternate, simple, 4–10 in long, dark green, tough and leathery in texture, with a serrated margin, and densely velvety-hairy below with thick yellow-brown pubescence.the young leaves are also densely pubescent above, but this soon rubs off.

 

Loquats are unusual among fruit trees in that the flowers appear in the autumn or early winter, and the fruits are ripe at any time from early spring to early summer.The flowers have a sweet, heady aroma that can be smelled from a distance.

Loquat fruits, growing in clusters, are oval, rounded or pear-shaped, 1–2 in long, with a smooth or downy, yellow or orange, sometimes red-blushed skin. The succulent, tangy flesh is white, yellow or orange and sweet to subacid or acid, depending on the cultivar.

 

Each fruit contains from one to ten ovules, with three to five being most common. A variable number of the ovules mature into large brown seeds (with different numbers of seeds appearing in each fruit on the same tree, usually between one and four). The skin, though thin, can be peeled off manually if the fruit is ripe. 

 

The fruits are the sweetest when soft and orange. The flavour is a mixture of peach, citrus and mild mango. Mature trees can handle temperatures down to 15f and are rated for zone 8 with some authors claiming zone 7. In this zone and colder they may be grown as container plants and sheltered during cold spells.