We grow and eat a wide variety of citrus fruits in America. That doesn’t mean we grow them all, and there is one citrus fruit that is taking restaurants and kitchens by storm, yet it is hardy grown at all, especially not by home gardeners. This fruit is the Yuzu. What, you have never heard of it? Neither had anyone else until a few years ago, when people began to notice its use in Japanese restaurants, and from there it has spread to be the hottest item around. Now we at the Tree Center have been able to source some top-quality plants of this rare tree, and we are proud to offer them to our clients.
The Yuzu is a hybrid citrus tree that has been known in Japan, China and Korea for centuries. It has a unique fruit that looks a little like a knobby mandarin, with a deep yellow skin, and an slightly uneven shape. Inside there are many seeds, and the skin is thick, but that is fine, because it is the skin and juice, rather than the flesh, which is eaten and used in cooking. Yuzu has a unique taste in the lemon/lime area, but different from any other citrus at all. It has overtones of grapefruit and mandarin too, and the skin in particular is used in everything from drinks and sauces to jams. The juice is also used to add zest and a unique finish to many dishes.
Besides the fruit, there are many other reasons to grow a Yuzu Citrus Tree in your garden. It has beautiful, fragrant white flowers on an attractive bush with glossy, rich-green evergreen foliage. It grows steadily into a small tree that may become 12 feet tall, but no more. The bright-yellow fruit is very ornamental, so this is an attractive garden plant, and it is hardy to 12 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 Centigrade). Yes, that is right. This is a citrus tree that you can grow in your garden even if you live in much colder zones than you ever thought citrus trees would survive.
It is an easy tree to grow, and will be an attractive and decorative bush or tree in your garden. If you grow this tree, you can use the fruit as a substitute for lemons, but from a tree that will grow comfortably outdoors in zone 8. That alone is reason enough to plant this tree anywhere as far north as Delaware, Tennessee or the state of Washington. If you live in a colder area you can still grow this fascinating tree in a pot, like other citrus trees, and because it is relatively small, it will thrive and fruit in a pot for many years. You only need to bring it into a cool, bright place when the temperatures hit the freezing point, and you can keep it outdoors for the rest of the time.
Choose a sunny spot to grow your Yuzu Citrus Tree, but it will also grow and bear fruit in partial shade. It grows best in well-drained, slightly acidic soil, and can be grown just like other types of citrus trees. It is self-pollinating, and has few significant pests or diseases.
The Juzu, Citrus junos, is believed to be a hybrid between the mandarin and a wild Chinese species, Citrus ichangensis, which is a hardy relative of the pomelo. It grows wild in China and Tibet, and it was introduced into Japan and Korea around the year 700 AD. It has an upright habit, and the leaves are unique in appearance, with green ‘wings’ along the stalk that carries the leaf. It has thorns on the branches. It flowers in spring, with white, perfumed flowers, and the fruit is ripe by winter, when it has turned a strong yellow color. The round fruit can be the size of a grapefruit, or even larger. All parts of the plants, especially the fruit and the leaves, are strongly aromatic with the scent of citrus.
This is a very special plant, and if you are at all interested in growing the unique and novel, this is definitely the tree for you. If you like to experiment in the kitchen, or love Japanese food, you will especially love having access to this difficult-to-find fruit. We are lucky to have a good supply, but we know that there will be a stampede from enthusiasts for these trees, so order now before they are all gone.