Are you ready to get obsessed with loquats a little peach colored fruit?! For fruits that are best hyper-local, the loquat and Houston native the dewberry are my favorites. Here’s why.
Loquats, also called a Chinese plum, are remarkably common throughout Zone 9. They thrive from the warmth and amount of sun so they have been a popular gardening choice throughout the area for 40+ years. You will find them on abandoned lots, in backyards, and around public parks. It fruits early in the season – sometimes as early as March but more commonly in mid to late April. In it’s native Japan, it fruits in June.
It is most similar in appearance, texture, and flavor to the apricot. It’s a gorgeous peach in color and teardrop in shape. It’s not as juicy as a peach but has a soft fleshy fruit that is totally divine.
It is from the Rosaceae family, in the genus Eriobotrya. That makes this fruit most similar genetically to the apple. But shares little in common in taste or appearance. One trait that is common to apples and loquats are that the seeds are considered toxic. They have lots of different names for this toxicity but I see it most commonly called “digestible cyanide.”
How to Grow Loquats
A mature loquat tree will grow to 5-8 feet in 5 years and 10-12 feet in 10 years. It peaks at around 20 feet. To harvest this fruit, you will need a ladder as the fruit grows throughout the treetops.
If you graft the tree, it may fruit within 2-3 years. From seed, it may take 10 years for loquat trees to fruit. There doesn’t appear to be any info on how long a loquat tree can live, but I can tell you I’ve seen many that are 50+ years old.
Loquats do have some natural pests. Aphids are of the most common – which are usually treating by daily cleaning with soap and water. Codling moths can be a problem too, although I’ve read about this more than I’ve seen it.
The sweet fruit will attract bees and wasps, so be cautious if you decide the harvest the fruit!
How to Eat Loquats
If you want to try eating loquats, allow the fruit to ripen completely on the tree. It will start green and ripen into a gorgeous yellow/pink/orange like the color of a sunset. It’s season of turning from green to ripe is quite short. So once you notice the loquat tree fruiting in January and the green fruit maturing in size by early March, know that your ripe fruit is shortly behind and pay attention. Loquats also turn from ripe to rotten quickly – within 2 weeks. So harvest them as soon as they are ripe.
Loquats, much like apricots, do not travel well, so they are best when you find them locally. As with any fruit, be careful where it comes from. If you are not familiar with what’s in the soil or how a plant has been treated, it’s best not to eat.
Health Benefits of Loquats
Loquats are used in Chinese medicine and herbal blends. Because they are a flavorful fruit, they are perfect for cooking as well! They are remarkably healthy and have a ton of vitamins and minerals.
It has over 51% of your daily recommended Vitamin A, in addition to less than 10% of lots of trace minerals like: manganese, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
They also have between 5-10% of many different B vitamins like folate, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and more. At Nutrition and You find an in depth look at the vitamins, minerals, and health benefits of the loquat.
Are you obsessed yet?! Then don’t miss our round up of the best loquat recipes coming soon and our Loquat Jam Recipe also coming soon to Pop Shop America!
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