Kerry Heafner profiles the loquat (Eriobotrya japonica). Watch as he tells us all about this underused fruit tree that makes an excellent (and delicious) addition to the landscape.
Plant Profile: Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)
- Video Transcript, Plant Profile by Kerry Heafner.
Home orchards are becoming more and more popular and as folks look for plants that not only produce fruit. They're also looking for plants that are attractive in the landscape.
Loquats are native of Asia, they’re also called Japanese plum but their in the Rose family like plums, pears, and apples, and a lot of other popular fruit. And as you can see from these specimens they can get quite tall of 20 or 30 feet even, or you can keep them pruned down to a moderate height.
Loquats have large leathery leaves that look almost old timey or heirloom like and they’re evergreen so you'll have attractive foliage year round.
Now Loquats are unique among fruit trees here in North America anyway because they flower in the wintertime. Fruit production will occur in late winter or early spring and if the winters are mild enough so pollinators can get to the flowers, when fruit production starts you'll see ripening that will transition from these green little oval shaped fruit, all the way up to these plump yellowish orange fruits that have been described as having taste that range from peach like or banana like or a combination of the two. Either way they're delicious and try them and see for yourself.
Loquat is a perfect example of a plant that can be used for fruit production but also fits into just about any landscape. In this formal situation this specimen is being grown more or less in an espalier type pattern. It's been pruned to fit up against this brick wall and even though it's a little shady here for good fruit production (which you would want full sun for), it fits right in with its large leathery foliage, with other types of shrubs used in a formal situation. Like these sasanqua camellias that line the wall going down the street.
Any well-stocked garden center will have loquat trees available, but if you can find someone with a fully mature tree that's produced fruit and the fruit has produced seeds, then you can propagate some. The fruit have one to several seeds that are about the size of coffee beans and this can be germinated right away and with seeds you get new combinations, maybe even a new variety.
Fully mature loquat trees will set a fruit crop, drop the fruit, and therefore drop the seeds. And when that happens, if we’re lucky, sometimes seedlings will germinate under this mother plant and we can take those seedlings and transplant them elsewhere.
Here are a few seedlings from this large specimen tree. Here's the seedling that's already two or three feet tall and then we have some smaller specimens right here in the ivy and even one out here in this ajuga. When they're this size you can transplant them into your home landscape.
Now here’s a seedling we just found under this large tree and the seed is still attached and there's a root system but it's not huge and this is the perfect size for transplanting into your home orchard or landscape. The roots won’t sustain a lot of damage and the stem is still sturdy enough that you can move the plant around.
So we’re just going to transplant this seedling into some prepared potting mix. I’m going to give the roots plenty of room to grow. And we’ll probably leave it in this pot for the first year and it will be ready to go into the landscape the second year.
So for something unique in your home orchard or landscape try loquats. For State-by-State Gardening, I'm Kerry Heafner.