Loquat – Eriobotrya japonica

Loquat
Loquat

In frost free areas of North America this small evergreen tree is grown for its fruit and because it makes a nice ornamental. The flowers appear in fall, followed by edible yellow fruit in the spring. These fruit if eaten before full ripeness are excessively acidic. Waiting patiently for the full color of the fruit to develop is possibly the only way to recognize ripeness.

The Loquat is a fruit of Southeastern Chinese origin. It was introduced into Japan and became naturalized there in very early times, and has been cultivated in Japan for over 1,000 years. Loquat syrup is used in Chinese medicine for soothing the throat like a cough drop. The fruit acts as a sedative and is eaten to halt vomiting and thirst.

The flowers have expectorant properties. An infusion of the leaves, or the dried, powdered leaves, may be taken to relieve diarrhea, depression and to counteract drunkenness from consumption of intoxicating beverages. Leaf poultices are applied on swellings.

The fruits are very edible and can be compared with its cousin the apple. They are used in jams, jellies, and chutneys. The fruit is low in cholesterol, sodium, and saturated fat making them very healthy indeed!

Warning: The seeds and leaves are mildly toxic causing drowsiness in chickens and humans!

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