Monday, November 29, 2010



A small genus of 10 species of evergreen trees and shrubs native to Asia.
They are grown both for their fruit and the attractive lush tropical looking foliage.
The Loquats prefer subtropical climates and full sun and prefer moist soil that is acidic to slightly alkaline. Loquats are drought tolerant however plants grown for their fruits should be mulched to protect the shallow roots and fertilized regularly.

* photos of unknown internet source

Eriobotrya deflexa ( Bronze Loquat )
A moderate growing small tree. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 3 feet; 10 years - 16 x 13 feet; largest on record - 40 x 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 1.8 feet.
The leaves, up to 10 x 3 inches in size, are coppery-red for the first 2 months, turning to glossy deep green.
Hardy north to zone 8b ( reported of 7 on protected sites ) in sun to partial shade. Very salt and moderately drought tolerant. It thrives in milder parts of the southeastern U.S. from Savannah, GA and south.

Eriobotrya japonica ( Japanese Loquat )
A rapid growing, dense, bushy, small to medium size evergreen tree to around 30 feet, native to southeast China and Japan where it has been cultivated for over a thousand years. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 4 feet; 8 years - 20 feet; 20 years - 20 x 17 feet ( average ); largest on record - 80 x 35 feet with a trunk diameter of 2.2 feet; largest in North Carolina - 18 + fee. It has also become naturalized in the entire Mediterranean Basin, Pakistan, India and many other parts of the world.
The large, prominently-veined, toothed, lance-shaped leaves are up to 12 x 5 or rarely 20.5 x 6 inches in size. The wrinkled thick foliage is glossy deep green above, brownish fuzzy beneath. The tough leathery leaves are typically whorled towards the branch tips.
The flower buds are woolly and open to fragrant creamy flowers borne in erect panicles up to 6 inches in length during autumn and winter. The flowers are prone to frost damage in harsh climates which will thus reduce the crop.
The fragrant. fleshy, sweet, juicy, edible, yellow-orange fruits up to 2 are sometimes 3 inches in length are produced in early spring.
It bears fruit at as early as 3 years with up to 50 pounds of fruit per year. Up to 100 pounds of fruit have been known to be produced on trees as young as 5 years. Mature trees have been known to produce as much as 300 pounds of fruit. Fruits may be damaged during the winter at temperatures below 20 F even if the plant itself suffers no damage at all.
Japanese Loquat is self fertile and does not need a pollinater.
The fruits are sweetest when soft and orange.
Eaten in large quantities, loquats have a gentle sedative effect, with effects lasting up to 24 hours. The fruits are excellent eaten fresh, in jams and canned, they make a great addition to fruit salads and pies. Wines can also be made from fermented fruit.
The smooth bark is grayish-brown. The stout twigs are densely covered in brown fuzz.
Hardy zone 8 to 11 preferring full sun and a light well drained soil. The leaves are damaged at 3 F and the tree is killed to the ground at 0 F. If not grown for its fruit, it may be hardy in zone 7 if summers are hot enough to ripen the wood and protection from excessive wind is supplied in the winter. It can also be used in zone 7 against warm sunny south facing walls.
Grows well in both the southeast U.S. and the Pacific Northwest.
Young trees need an inch of water every 2 weeks for the first few years.
Mature trees are very drought and moderately salt tolerant.
Trees used for fruit production are typically grafted as seed grown trees tend to be variable. Generally easy to grow, fireblight may occasionally be a problem.

* photo taken on October 17 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on Jan 4 2011 @ Deerfield Beach Arboretum, Florida

* historic archive photo

'Big Jim'
Upright in habit. Has large orange fruit with sweet orange flesh.


  1. Just put in one of these a month ago. It's really a beautiful tree. Thanks for the info!!

  2. Your welcome! I'm guessing with a little bit of extra irrigation that it should do well in Tucson. Occasional winter irrigation may be important for better fruit production.
    In the east we typically get abundant winter rainfall so the ground tends not to dry out anyway.

  3. Hi!

    This is from Hungary. Eriobotrya japonica is much hardier than 0F. It has survived in my zone 6 garden with no protection in the past 10 years, tolerating prolonged freeze around -10F. Surprisingly, it has also proved stem-hardy at -10F.

  4. Great feedback!!! I am interested in hearing additional info on Eriobotrya hardiness. Is this the straight species or a named cultivar? As for here in Baltimore we have never gone below 0 F in the 8 years since I lived here so I would have no way to personally experiment with Loquat hardiness in zone 6

  5. Hi Randy,

    I guess it is the straight species. No fruit, of course but it is such a wonderful foliage plant. Luckily, there so many great plants out there where there is simply no accurate info on cold-hardiness, so there is room to experiment :)