Loquat – Eriobotrya japonica
Last month I gave a plant talk at the Erie Cage Bird Association. Afterwards, the club held a raffle of plants which I had donated. One of the main attractions was a little loquat seedling.
Indigenous to southeastern China, the loquat resembles a large evergreen shrub. They are easy to grow, having adapted to a sub-tropical to mild temperate climate, handling temperatures down to 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Although they bear fruit, loquats are often grown as ornamentals.
Although they can grow up to thirty feet, most stay much smaller (around ten feet). The loquat has a shallow root system so a large tub or container is ideal. Loquats grow best in full sun but can handle partial shade. They are drought tolerant but do much better with regular deep water. Be careful not to let them stand in water.
A favorite in ethnic markets, the loquat fruit comes in orange or white-flesh varieties. It is similar to the apple with a high sugar and pectin content. The loquat can be eaten fresh, or used for making pies, tarts, jams, jellies and chutneys.