Eriobotrya japonica

The Loquat is native to China but has been cultivated by the Japanese for more than a thousand years which explains the botanical name japonica. It is more commonly called Chinese or Japanese plum, but today is grown worldwide in almost all warm and subtropical regions.

This plant is atypical in that the blooms appear in fall and the delicious edible fruits ripen in late spring. Blooms are 2″ in diameter and emit a sweet aroma that can be detected more than 50′ away.

The loquat is easy to grow in the landscape in temperate climates and is a beautiful ornamental. The textured foliage gives a lush, tropical appearance to any garden. Many people confuse loquat with kumquat. The Loquat is larger and more like a stone fruit with a large center pit. The pits are considered inedible.

It is an evergreen shrub or small tree reaching 10′ to 12′ at maturity in central Texas. In the landscape, an established tree can withstand 12 degrees F, but flowers are killed by 20 degrees F. The plant should be sited out of direct, hard winds and afternoon sun. Hot, drying winds can cause leaf scorch, but the plant can recover prior to floral display in the fall. Loquats make excellent container plants due in part to the size. Newer hybrids have been developed for production, with most or all of the fruit maturing at the same time. The species plant has a longer range of fruit production often providing the home gardener fresh fruit over a two or three month period. The loquat is a member of the apple family which share a common trait of high sugar and pectin content. It can be eaten as a fresh fruit and most often is served poached in syrup in the Orient.

The Chinese have long used loquat syrup as a cough remedy. It is said to act as an expectorant. Eaten in large quantities, it is said to act as a sedative which is not long-lasting and ancient records indicate usage as an anesthetic. The fruits can be white, yellow, orange, or red-tinged. Loquats are low in saturated fat; high in Vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium; high in dietary fiber. The taste is similar to a mixture of peach and citrus and is sweetest when the fruit is slightly over ripe.

Fresh Spring Salsa: Wash and pit loquats. Finely dice the fruit and mix in a medium bowl. Add the juice of one lime and coat the fruit well. Dice and add 2 TBL green onions, 1/2 fresh jalapeno, 1 medium tomato, 1/2 bell pepper into the bowl with the fruit. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over baked chicken or fish.