Yeah, it grows here: The Loquat

Eriobotrya japonica

Looking at this tree and the fruit you would think such a plant would not do well in dry climates. Loquat looks like something that grows in wet, temperate coastal forests. I am not sure what it’s native habitat in China looks like, but as miracles would have it, it does great in arid lands, so long as it’s kept fed and watered.

Full grown loquat tree.

Loquat loaded with fruit, not an unusual scene in spring.

Plants can be found throughout Tucson, where I live and even when plants are poorly watered, unfed and ignored, they produce fruit. They suffer frost damage at temperatures below 15 degrees F., but fruit can be harmed by late frosts. Spray canopies down once in a while to keep from being too dry, which can attract spider mites. This is even better if spraying with compost tea.

Plants bloom a few times a year, especially in early spring and are very fragrant. In late spring trees deliver delicious, yellow to orange fruits that can be eaten fresh, made into chutney or preserves, and even made into a delicious wine. The loquat is low in saturated fat and sodium, and is high in vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, and manganese.

Mulch trees as wide as the mature size of the canopy. People tend to make small tree wells and water right next to the trunk. But roots extend beyond the canopy of a tree, and it is always smart to plant other things around trees within a very wide well. This gives you a little microclimate within which to grow stuff, but also benefits the tree with proper watering. Mulching is always good for almost every plant, and trees are no exception. Feed with kelp, fish emulsion and/or compost tea throughout the year, especially spring-fall.

Trees can be obtained at local nurseries in Tucson, like Mesquite Valley Growers. You can purchase plants online at Top Tropicals and many other fruit tree nurseries and this is the best way to get improved varieties that produce more delicious fruit. It is easy to grow loquat from seed and the fruit is usually acceptable but if you want good, quality fruit, get a named variety from an online source. Oh yeah, don’t eat the seeds. They are slightly poisonous, like it’s relative the apple.

Stay tuned for a loquat chutney recipe from a new collaborator.


One thought on “Yeah, it grows here: The Loquat

  1. oh wonderful, a recipe for chutney. I have been trying to figure out what to do with all the loquats here, had considered leathers, but chutney sounds great too. So far, most of them haven’t been making it inside, messy but delicious! 😉

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