Plant Hardiness Zones 7-10
|Full – Partial|
The Loquat Tree is an uncommon small tree or large shrub around 15 feet tall with a dense crown of large, attractive leaves. It has a bold appearance, with the large leaves giving a slightly tropical look to the garden and blending well with many other kinds of plants, from deciduous trees to palms. It is a rare and special plant because it flowers in fall, when the clusters of white flowers will fill your garden with a rich and sweet fragrance. It is an easy, trouble-free tree that each spring produces a crop of yellow berries one or two inches across that can be used to make delicious preserves and jams. The fruit begins to ripen in late winter and continues through the spring, so that fruit can be harvested over a long period. They should be left to ripen on the tree until soft. Each fruit contains a few large black seeds that should not be eaten. The light-yellow flesh is aromatic and has a unique flavor, being a blend of peach, citrus and mango. It can be eaten fresh, added to fruit salads, poached in sugar syrup, backed into pies or made into sweet jams, spicy preserves and delicious chutneys.
The Loquat Tree, Eriobotrya japonica, originated in China, but it is better known from Japan, where it has been grown for over a 1,000 years. It is also called the Japanese Medlar and in Spanish, El Nispero. It is a large shrub or small tree that can grow to 30 feet, but it is usually much shorter, around 10–15 feet tall. It has large, evergreen leaves 6 to 12 inches long that have a leathery texture and are deep green in color on top, but covered with dense, light-brown hairs on the underside. The whole tree usually has a short trunk and a rounded crown with thick branches. Flower buds and young leafy shoots emerge covered with a dense tan colored fur similar to that underneath the leaves. This fur disappears as the shoots mature. So the tree always has interesting features at different times of the year that make it attractive and a valuable visual addition to any garden.
The flowers appear in fall and are in dense clusters. The individual flowers are about 1 inch across and have a strong, sweet smell that perfumes the whole garden. The fruits develop in around 90 days after flowering, so they are ripe in late winter or spring. When ready for harvest the berries will be soft, yellow and up to 2 inches across. Berries can be picked as they ripen, which will be over several weeks, so with this tree there are no gluts of fruit going to waste – everything can be eaten and processed into delicious and unusual desserts and sweet or savory preserves.
This tree is extremely easy to grow in zones 8 to 10. It fruits most prolifically in zone 9 and zone 10, as the developing fruit can be damaged by light frost, while the tree itself is quite hardy to 120F, but even without fruiting, this is a very attractive tree that is worth growing for its striking foliage and sweet fall flowers. It will grow in all types of soil, from sand to clay, as well as in alkaline soils, just needing reasonable drainage. It is also very drought resistant when mature. Young trees should be watered regularly as should those developing fruits. The Loquat tree can also be grown in a large container, so it could be moved into a sheltered spot to protect fruit from frost if necessary.
There is no need to prune the Loquat Tree, but it can be cut back as needed and trained as a shrub or as a tree. It even makes a very attractive informal hedge and windbreak. If the tree gets too large it can be cut back hard and it will re-sprout very quickly. It rarely suffers from even minor pests and diseases.
There are different kinds of Loquat trees and our trees are grown from the best named forms by grafting shoots onto sturdy root systems. Beware of cheaper seedling trees that can take 10 years to bear fruit of uncertain quality. Our trees begin to bear top-quality fruit in just two or three years.
To plant your Loquat Tree, choose a sunny or partially shady position with enough clearance from buildings and wires for the tree to reach its full size. Dig a hole that is three times the width of the pot, place the tree in the hole to the same depth as it is in its pot and replace most of the soil. Water well and when all the water has drained away put back the rest of the soil. Water your new tree thoroughly each week during the first summer and then as needed when the soil becomes dry. Once established the Loquat Tree is very drought resistant and extra water is rarely needed, but for the best fruit do not let the tree dry-out after the flowering period.
Our Loquat Trees are true to their proper form and we are constantly renewing our stock so our customers get fresh, healthy plants. However this can mean that supplies of this rare tree may be limited, so to avoid disappointment order now.