1 evergreen tree of warm regions having fuzzy yellow olive-sized fruit with a large free stone; native to China and Japan [syn: loquat tree, Japanese medlar, Japanese plum, Eriobotrya japonica]
2 yellow olive-sized semitropical fruit with a large free stone and relatively little flesh; used for jellies [syn: Japanese plum]
The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a fruit tree in the subfamily Maloideae of the family Rosaceae, indigenous to southeastern China.
DescriptionIt is an evergreen large shrub or small tree, with a rounded crown, short trunk and woolly new twigs. The tree can grow to 5-10 m tall, but is often smaller, about 3-4 m.
The leaves are alternate, simple, 10-25 cm long, dark green, tough and leathery in texture, with a serrated margin, and densely velvety-hairy below with thick yellow-brown pubescence; the young leaves are also densely pubescent above, but this soon rubs off.
Loquats are unusual among fruit trees in that the flowers appear in the autumn or early winter, and the fruits are ripe in late winter or early spring. In Northern California, loquats bear fruit in May, while in Southern California, loquats bear fruit in April. The flowers are 2 cm diameter, white, with five petals, and produced in stiff panicles of three to ten flowers. The flowers have a sweet, heady aroma that can be smelled from a distance.
Loquat fruits, growing in clusters, are oval, rounded or pear-shaped, 3-5 cm long, with a smooth or downy, yellow or orange, sometimes red-blushed skin. The succulent, tangy flesh is white, yellow or orange and sweet to subacid or acid, depending on the cultivar. Each fruit contains five ovules, of which three to five mature into large brown seeds. The skin, though thin, can be peeled off manually if the fruit is ripe.
The Loquat is a fruit of Southeastern Chinese origin. It was introduced into Japan and became naturalised there in very early times, and has been cultivated there for over 1,000 years. It has also become naturalised in India and many other areas. Chinese immigrants are presumed to have carried the loquat to Hawaii.
The Loquat was often mentioned in ancient Chinese literature, such as the poems of Li Bai.
Eaten in quantity, loquats have a noticeable but gentle sedative effect, with effects lasting up to 24 hours.
ProductionJapan is a leading producer of loquats (January to June), followed by Taiwan and China (March to July). They are also grown in the Mediterranean region (for example in Cyprus, Egypt. France, Israel, Palestine, Italy, Albania, Lebanon, Malta, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Syria, Turkey), as well as in Armenia, Abkhazia, Australia, Bermuda (where they are commonly made into jam), Brazil, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Portugal. In Cyprus they are called mespila whereas in Greece they are called mousmoula. Loquats are common in Madagascar, mainly in the highlands in the middle of the country; the Malagasy name is Pibasy.
CultivationThe Loquat is easy to grow and is often also grown as an ornamental tree; it was commonly grown in California by the 1870s. It also thrives in the humid south-east Texas (Houston) climate, as well as all over Israel. The boldly textured foliage adds a tropical look to gardens, contrasting well with many other plants.
EtymologyThe name loquat derives from lou4 gwat1, the Cantonese pronunciation of its old classical Chinese name (, literally "reed orange"). In modern Chinese, it is more commonly known as pipa (), from the resemblance of its shape to that of the Chinese musical instrument pipa (琵琶). Likewise, in Japanese it is called biwa, similarly named from the corresponding musical instrument, biwa. It is also known as the "Japanese medlar", an appellation used in many languages: nêspera or magnório (Portuguese), níspero (Spanish), lokaat (Hindi), japanska mušmula ili nešpula (Croatian), naspli (Maltese), nespola (Italian), náspolya (Hungarian), nespra (Catalan), nèfle du Japon or bibasse (French). Other names include: sheseq (Hebrew), Askidinya, Akkidinya, Aki Dini,Igadinya or Bashmala (Arabic), Akkadeneh or Akka Dhuniya (Lebanese), zger or Nor Ashkhar (Armenian), mushmala (Georgian), mousmoula or mespilia (Greek), Japanse (wol)mispel (Dutch), muşmula, yeni dünya, or Malta Eriği in Turkish. The Armenian name Nor Ashkhar and the Turkish name yeni dünya literally mean "new world", while the everyday Turkish name for the fruit, Malta eriği, means 'Maltese plum', indicating perhaps confusion over the fruit's origin.
- Kumquat (Although Kumquats are not related botanically to Loquats, the two names share an origin in their old Chinese names.)
- Botanical and Horticultural Information on the Loquat (Traditional Chinese)
loquat in Arabic: اكي دنيا
loquat in Min Nan: Gî-pê (koé-chí)
loquat in German: Japanische Wollmispel
loquat in Modern Greek (1453-): Μουσμουλιά
loquat in Spanish: Eriobotrya japonica
loquat in French: Néflier du Japon
loquat in Korean: 비파나무
loquat in Italian: Eriobotrya japonica
loquat in Hebrew: שסק
loquat in Dutch: Loquat
loquat in Japanese: ビワ
loquat in Portuguese: Nêspera
loquat in Russian: Мушмула_японская
loquat in Swedish: Loquat
loquat in Tonga (Tonga Islands): Loketi
loquat in Turkish: Malta eriği
loquat in Chinese: 枇杷