What are Loquats?
NOTE and DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist or a doctor. My knowledge comes from extensive internet research I do in order to further my knowledge of the fruits, vegetables, etc. grown on my homestead. I am not licensed to provide medical information of any type. I do not claim to be able to do so in any way. Thank you for supporting The Green Acre Homestead.
When I moved to Citrus County, Florida I had no idea what a loquat tree was…or a mulberry tree for that matter. I always thought they were bushes? Nope! Big ole’ trees. Anyway, back to loquats and the big question WHAT ARE THEY? We have two trees in our yard and they produce these beautiful yellow fruit. It turns out there is so much to know about them!
History of Loquats and What They Are
I suppose it’s only proper to provide you with a little history and facts on Loquat Trees before trying to convince you to eat them and/or grow them in your own back yard if applicable. They have edible fruits originated in China able to reach heights of 10 to 30 feet tall, often used ornamentally. Loquats fruits are sometimes referred to as the Japanese or Chinese Plum and ripen in the Spring here in Florida.
With 800 cultivars existing in Asia, loquat trees are now found all over the world. According to Wikipedia, Japan is the leading producer of loquats followed by Israel and then Brazil. In Europe, Spain is the main producer of loquat. Honestly, it seems like people know the least about loquats than any other fruit that I plan to grow!
Loquat syrup is used in Chinese medicine for soothing the throat and is also a popular ingredient for cough drops. I’ve actually bought loquat honey from our local health food store before!. Apparently, the leaves can help soothe the digestive and respiratory systems. I’ve also read that, if eaten in large enough quantities, loquats can act as a sedative! Reading about the loquat’s possible medicinal factors is quite fascinating.
Appearance and Taste
Loquat trees kind of look like magnolia trees, in my opinion. They’re these tall wide evergreen trees with beautiful lushes leaves and tiny white blooming flowers that turn to big, sweet, juicy and slightly fuzzy orange fruits with anywhere from 1 to 5 small, round brown seeds on the succulent inside. See the pictures below…YUM. The inner leaves turn brighter green colors when the trees start to bloom and are surrounded by darker green leaves.
It turns out that, in my neck of the woods, everyone seems to have one. The sad part about it is that most people are unaware that you can eat the delicious fruit. In fact, I recently saw a local church with 10 trees and called to see if they’d let me pick some loquats and they said yes! Needless to say, I’ll be processing loquats for the next month. You can make many things with loquats including jams, pies, upside cakes, and apparently wine and brandy (I have not tried any of these yet but plan to try many of them)!
If you pick the loquats early, right after they turn yellow, they’re a bit more tart than they are sweet. My husband prefers them more tart. For me, I like them sweet, sweet, sweet. Leave them on the tree a bit longer and pick them once they’re a nice rich yellow and you’ve achieved a nice sweet fruit! Some people say that taste like apricots, but personally, I think they taste somewhat like grapes!
Loquats are high in Vitamin A, dietary fiber, manganese, and potassium. They’re apparently also very high in pectin, which is good for a number of reasons. To be completely honest with you, it seems like there isn’t that much information on the actual nutrition of this fruit. For starters, most people don’t seem to even realize you can eat them right off the tree. The website linked above is a great resource for information on the nutrition of loquats. I am not a
Climate and Care
Loquats are best grown in Zones 8 and above if your goal is to grow them for edible fruit due to the warmer climates in these zones. Here in Florida, I consider it the first sign that warmer weather is well on its way! In cooler climates, loquats rarely ripen to an edible state, unfortunately. Luckily, you can still grow them as ornamental trees since they’re so tough!
A very hardy tree, they require little maintenance, depending on your end goal. When we moved in, our loquat trees were a little overgrown and getting a bit out of hand. We pruned them three years ago and haven’t pruned them since. Our goal is to grow more outward instead of upward to be able to continue to easily harvest fruit. My loquat trees are watered the least out of all my trees and they are doing wonderfully! Actually, after processing my harvest from the church’s trees, I’ll be picking fruit from our own trees this week! I don’t fertilize our trees, either. They’re truly a great, hardy, backyard tree.
What fruit trees are you growing in your back yard? Had you ever heard of loquats before now? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments! If you’d like to see what else we’re growing and experiencing on our homestead, head on over to our gallery page!