|Eriobotrya japonica subsp. var.||Loquat, Japanese medlar, Nispero|
Growth Habits: The loquat is a large evergreen shrub or small tree with a rounded crown, short trunk and woolly new twigs. The tree can grow 20 to 30 ft. high, but is usually much smaller than this--about 10 ft. Loquats are easy to grow and are often used as an ornamental. Their boldly textured foliage add a tropical look to the garden and contrast well with many other plants. Because of the shallow root system of the loquat, care should be taken in mechanical cultivation not to damage the roots.
Foliage: Loquat leaves are generally eliptical-lanceolate, 5 to 12 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide. They are dark green and glossy on the upper surface, whitish or rusty-hairy beneath, thick and stiff, with conspicuous parallel, oblique veins. The new growth is sometimes tinged with red. The leaves are narrow in some cultivars and broad in others.
Flowers: Small, white, sweetly fragrant flowers are borne in fall or early winter in panicles at the ends of the branches. Before they open, the flower clusters have an unusual rusty-wooly texture.
Fruit: Loquat fruits, growing in clusters, are oval, rounded or pear-shaped, 1 to 2 inches 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 three to five large brown seeds. The loquat is normally pollinated by bees. Some cultivars are self-infertile and others are only partially self-fertile. Flowers of the early and late flushes tend to have abnormal stamens and very little viable pollen. Thinning of flowers and young fruits in the cluster, or clipping off all or part of flower and fruit clusters is sometimes done to enhance fruit size. Under most conditions the loquat tends to develop an alternate-bearing pattern, which can be modified somewhat by cluster thinning in heavy production years. For the highest quality fruit the clusters are sometimes bagged to protect from sunburn and eliminate bird damage.
Adaption: The loquat is adapted to a subtropical to mild-temperature climate. Where the climate is too cool or excessively warm and moist, the tree is grown as an ornamental but will not bear fruit. Well established trees can tolerate a low temperature of 12° F. The killing temperature for the flower bud is about 19° F, and for the mature flower about 26° F. At 25° F the seed is killed, causing the fruit to fall. Extreme summer heat is also detrimental to the crop, and dry, hot winds cause leaf scorch. High heat and sunlight during the winter often results in sunburned fruit. The white-fleshed varieties are better adapted to cool coastal areas. In a large tub the loquat makes a good container specimen.
- More information about this species can be found on the genus page.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Eriobotrya japonica, Limit (Photinia japonica, Gray). Loquat. Fig. 1416. Small tree, to 20 ft.: lvs. thick, evergreen, nearly sessile, oval-oblong or obovate, remotely toothed, bright green and lustrous above, rusty-tomentose below, 6-10 in. long: panicles 4-7 in. long; fls. white, ½ in. across, nearly hidden in the rusty-woolly pubescence: fr. pear-shaped, yellow, about 1½ in. long, with few large seeds, of agreeable acid flavor. Sept., Oct.; fr. April-June. Japan, China. —The loquat is native to China and Japan, but is much planted in the Gulf states and westward. It blooms from Aug. until the approach of winter, and ripens its clustered fr. in very early spring. The fr. is often seen in northern markets. It is a profuse bearer in congenial climates. See Loquat. Loquat is an excellent decorative plant, either as an evergreen lawn tree south of Charleston, or as a pot-plant in the N. It is a most satisfactory conservatory subject, resisting uncongenial conditions. Var. variegata, Hort. Lvs. variegated with irregular markings of pale green, dark green and white.
Location: Loquats are wind tolerant and grow best in full sun, but also do well in partial shade. The round headed trees can be used to shade a patio. Loquats also make attractive espaliers.
Soil: Loquats grow well on a variety of soils of moderate fertility, from light sandy loam to heavy clay and even limestone soils, but need good drainage.
Irrigation: Loquat trees are drought tolerant, but they will produce higher quality fruit with regular, deep watering. The trees should be watered at the swelling of blossoms and 2 to 3 waterings should be given during harvest time. The trees will not tolerate standing water.
Fertilizing: Loquats benefit from regular, light applications of nitrogen fertilizers, but too much nitrogen will reduce flowering. A good formula for applications of chemical fertilizer is 1 lb. of 6-6-6 NPK three times a year during the period of active growth for each tree 8 to 10 feet in height. To control excessive growth, other authorities recommend fertilizing only once a year in midwinter.
Pruning: Judicious pruning should be done just after harvest, otherwise terminal shoots become too numerous and cause a decline in vigor. The objective of pruning is a low head to facilitate fruit thinning and harvest. Prune also to remove crossing branches and thin dense growth to let light into the center of the tree. Loquats respond well to more severe pruning.
Harvest: Loquat fruits should be allowed to ripen fully before harvesting. They reach maturity in about 90 days from full flower opening. When ripe the fruit develops a distinctive color, depending on the cultivar, and begins to soften. Unripe fruits do not ripen properly off the tree and are excessively acid. Harvest time in California is from March to June. The fruit is difficult to separate from the cluster stems without tearing and must be carefully clipped individually or the whole cluster removed and the fruit then snipped off. Ripe fruit may be stored in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks.
Generally seeds are used for propagation only when the tree is grown for ornamental purposes or for use as rootstock. For rootstock the seed are washed and planted in flats or pots soon after removal from the fruit and the seedlings are transplanted when 6 to 7 inches high. When the stem is 1/2 inch thick at the base, the seedlings are ready to be top-worked. Loquats can be propagated by various grafting methods, including shield-budding or side-veneer grafting and cleft-grafting. The use of loquat seedling rootstock usually results in a comparatively large tree with a high canopy. Cultivars grown on quince rootstock produce a dwarfed tree of early bearing character. The smaller tree has no effect on fruit size and gives adequate fruit production with the advantage of easier picking. Loquat cuttings are not easy to root. Grafted trees will begin to bear fruit in 2 to 3 years, compared to 8 to 10 years in seedling trees.
Pests and diseases
In California there are few pests that bother loquats. Occasionally infestations of black scale may appear. Fruit flies are a serious pests in areas where they are problem. Birds will also peck at the ripe fruit and damage it, and deer will browse on the foliage.
Fire blight caused by Erwinia amylovora is a major enemy of the loquat in California, particularly in areas with late spring and summer rains or high humidity. The disease is spread by bees during flowering. Fire blight can be controlled somewhat by the use of preventive fungicides or bactericides and by removal of the the scorched-looking branches, cutting well into live wood. The prunings should be burned or or sealed in a plastic bag before disposal. Crown rot caused by Phytophthora and cankers caused by Pseudomonas Eriobotrya are also occasional problems.
- Big Jim - Originated in San Diego, Calif. by Jim Neitzel. Large, roundish to oblong fruit, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Skin pale orange-yellow, medium-thick, easy to peel. Flesh orange-yellow, very sweet but with some acidity, of excellent flavor. Ripens midseason, March to April. Tree vigorous, upright, highly productive.
- Early Red - Originated by C. P. Taft in 1909. Medium-large, pear-shaped fruit, borne in compact clusters. Skin orange-red with white dots, tough, acid. Flesh orange very juicy, sweet, of fair to excellent flavor. Seeds usually 2 or 3. Ripens very early, late January or early February in California.
- Gold Nugget (Thales, Placentia) - Large, round to oblong-obovate fruit. Skin yellow-orange to orange, not thick, tender. Flesh orange-colored, juicy, firm and meaty. Flavor sweet, somewhat reminiscent of apricot, quality good. Seeds 4 or 5, the seed cavity not large. Ripens late. Fruits borne only a few to a cluster, keep and ship well. Tree vigorous, upright, self-fertile.
- Mogi - Selected from numerous seedlings planted at Mogi, Japan. Small, elliptical fruit, weight 40-50 grams. Skin light yellow. Flesh relatively sweet. Ripens in early spring. Tree cold-sensitive, self-fertile. Constitutes 60% of the Japanese crop of loquats.
- Mrs. Cooksey - New Zealand cultivar. Large fruit, up to 1-1/2 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Yellow flesh of very good flavor.
- Strawberry - Medium-sized fruit with yellow flesh. Named for the strawberry-like flavor detected by some tasters.
- Tanaka - Named after Dr. Yoshio Tanaka. Very large fruit, usually obovoid, weight 2 to 3 ounces. Skin orange-yellow, attractive. Flesh firm, rich orange, aromatic, slightly acidic to sweet, of excellent flavor. Seeds 2 to 4. Ripens very late, the beginning of May in California. Keeps unusually long, if left for a week it wrinkles and dries but does not rot. Tree vigorous and productive.
- Wolfe - Originated in Homestead, Florida by Carl W. Campbell. Fruit obovoid to slightly pyriform. Skin yellow, relatively thick. Flesh juicy, firm, flavor excellent. Seeds usually 1 to 3. Ripens in winter and early spring, several days later than Advance. Suitable for all purposes, but excellent for cooking. Tree to 25 feet tall. Blooms during fall and early winter.
- Advance - Medium to large, pear-shaped to eliptic-round fruit, deep yellow in color, borne in large, compact clusters. Skin downy, thick and tough. Flesh whitish, translucent, melting and very juicy. Flavor subacid, very pleasant, quality good. Ripens in midseason. Seeds commonly 4 or 5, the seed cavity not large. Tree is a natural dwarf, height 5 feet. Highly resistant to fire blight. Self-infertile, pollinate with Gold Nugget.
- Benlehr - Originated as a seedling on the property of Charles E. Benlehr of Encinitas, Calif. Medium-sized oval to oblong fruit, 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 inches long. Skin thin, peels very well. Flesh white and juicy, flavor sweet, quality excellent. Seeds 3 or 4.
- Champagne - Fruit medium to large, oval to pyriform. Fruit cluster large, loose. Skin deep yellow in color with a grayish bloom, thick, tough, somewhat astringent. Flesh whitish, translucent, melting and very juicy. Flavor mildly subacid, sprightly and pleasant, quality very good. Ripens late. Seeds 3 or 4, seed cavity not large. Perishable, good for preserving. Tree self-infertile, prolific.
- Herd's Mammoth - Fruit large, long and slightly tapering at the stem end. Flesh yellow orange with white to cream-colored flesh, good quality. Ripens earlier than Victory. Subject to black spot.
- Victory (Chatsworth Victory) - Large, oval fruit. Skin yellow to orange, becoming amber on the side exposed to the sun. Flesh white to cream-colored, juicy and sweet. Ripens in midseason to occasionally early. The most popular cultivar in Western Australia.
- Vista White - Small to medium-sized, roundish fruit with blunt calyx end. Skin light yellow. Flesh pure white, very high in sugar content. Ripens 1 to 3 weeks later than Gold Nugget. Excellent for dessert.
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|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Loquat. Fig. 2212. The loquat, or biwa of the Japanese (Eriobotrya japonica, Lindl.), is a small evergreen fruit tree with handsome foliage, considered to be a native of China and Japan. It has long been cultivated in those countries as well as in northern India; within recent years it has become fairly common in the Mediterranean basin, especially in Algeria and Sicily, and in the milder sections of the United States. In Florida and the Gulf States it is seen in dooryards and gardens, but is rarely planted in orchard form; in California its cultivation is conducted commercially. It is also grown in some tropical regions, but does not succeed so well as in the subtropics. In Japan the annual production is said to be over 20,000,000 pounds.
The tree, which attains an ultimate height of about 25 feet, is more or less densely clothed with elliptical to oblong-obovate, nearly sessile, remotely toothed deep green leaves, varying from 6 to 10 inches or more in length. The small, white, very fragrant flowers, which are produced in fall, are borne in crowded woolly panicles 4 to 7 inches long. The fruit, which ripens in spring, varies in shape from spherical to pyriform, in color from pale yellow to deep orange, and in the best varieties is sometimes 3 inches in length. The skin is thin and smooth, but tougher than that of an apple. The flesh is firm and meaty in some varieties, more melting in others, almost white to salmon-orange in color, juicy, and of a sprightly flavor suggestive of a cherry. The seeds, which are about ¾ inch long and dark brown in color, vary from one to eight or nine in number, four or five being common. They occupy a large amount of space in the center of the fruit, the reduction of the proportion of seed to flesh being one of the points most sought in breeding. The loquat is eaten while fresh or is made into pies, jams, jellies, preserves and the like.
The tree is successful on a wide variety of soils, but has done best on clay loam. Ikeda, a Japanese authority, considers that the fruit reaches its highest degree of perfection when grown near the seacoast. For orchard-planting a piece of well-drained land should be chosen, and the trees set 20 to 24 feet apart. Their culture presents few difficulties; in fact the loquat will thrive and produce good crops with less care than many other fruit trees. It does not require a great amount of fertilizer on reasonably good soils, but leguminous cover-crops have been found highly beneficial. Occasional pruning is required to admit light to the center of the tree, and to keep the branches somewhat thinned out. To obtain fruit of good size and best commercial value, it may be desirable to thin the crop as soon as the young fruits have set, leaving no more in a cluster than the tree can properly mature. Picking for market should be done when the fruit has lost its acidity and is fully ripe; if picked too soon the loquat is quite sour. For jelly only acid fruit is used. When packed in boxes holding about thirty pounds, the fruit can be shipped successfully to nearby markets, but for distant markets smaller packages and great care in packing are necessary.
Pear blight (Bacillus amylovorus) and loquat scab (Fusicladiurn eriobotryae) are at times troublesome in the California orchards, and a borer is reported from Japan which occasionally attacks the tree.
While in many countries the loquat is usually propagated from seed, there is as much variation among the seedlings as with other tree-fruits, and good varieties can be perpetuated only by some vegetative means of propagation. Both budding and grafting are practised, budding being the method preferred in the United States, and usually employed when trees are desired for commercial planting. Seedlings are often planted in dooryards, where they not only serve as admirable ornamental trees, but produce an abundance of reasonably good fruit. In budding and grafting, seedling loquats are generally used as stocks. When budded on quince, the tree is considerably dwarfed; this stock is sometimes used, however, because its fibrous root- system readily permits of transplanting. Seeds should be planted as soon as removed from the fruit, either singly in pots, or in flats from which they can be potted off later on. A light loam should be used, covering the seeds to a depth of about 1 inch. When the young plants have attained a height of 6 or 7 inches, they may be planted in nursery rows in the open ground, where they can be grown until the stems are about ½ inch in diameter at the base, when they are ready for budding. This is best done during October or November, depending upon climatic conditions. The buds are allowed to lie dormant until early spring, when they must be forced into growth. Budwood should be of young and smooth wood, preferably that which has turned brown and lost its pubescence, and from which the leaves have dropped. Shield-budding, essentially the same as practised with the citrous fruits, is the method commonly used. The buds should be cut somewhat larger than for the orange, preferably not less than 1 ½ inches in length. After inserting them in T-incisions made in the stocks at a convenient point not far above the ground, they should be tied with raffia, soft cotton string, or waxed tape, and left about three weeks, when they should have formed a union. At this time they may be unwrapped, and if necessary, rewrapped loosely, so as to allow the buds to start into growth. When not rewrapped, the bark sometimes opens up around the bud and exposes it to the air, causing its death. The stock must be cut back to a point about 3 inches above the bud, and all adventitious buds rubbed off as fast as they make their appearance. Difficulty is sometimes experienced in forcing the bud into growth.
In grafting, a simple cleft graft is used, with a cion of about the diameter of a lead pencil, and of well- matured wood.
Most of the named varieties of the loquat have originated in Japan, Algeria and California. Ikeda mentions forty-six varieties of Japanese origin, of which eight are recommended as the best for cultivation. Trabut of Algiers describes twelve varieties of Algerian origin, though none of them is considered so desirable, from a commercial standpoint, as Tanaka, with the possible exception of Taza, which resulted from a cross between Tanaka and one of the local forms. Tanaka is of Japanese origin, but has been grown in Algeria for several years, and also to a very limited extent in California, where it has not, however, become as popular as several varieties of local origin. Most of the varieties originated in the United States have been produced by C. P. Taft, of Orange, California, who has done more to improve the loquat than any other man. Among the best may be mentioned Advance, a bright yellow, pyriform fruit, sometimes 3 inches in length, produced in very large, compact clusters and ripening from March to June; Champagne, oval to pyriform, 2 to 3 inches in length, white-fleshed, produced in clusters as large as those of Advance but less compact, considered the best of all in flavor; Premier, oval, not quite so large as Advance, salmon- orange in color; Victor, a very large and showy fruit, in loose clusters, not considered valuable in California because it ripens late in the season; Early Red, a pyriform, deep orange-colored fruit, 1 to 2 inches in length, produced in medium-sized clusters, valuable because it is the earliest of all, commencing to ripen in late January. Tanaka is an attractive fruit of large size and deep orange-color, with unusually good shipping qualities, but it ripens too late to be of commercial value in California. The earliest fruits are the ones which yield the greatest returns, because they come into market at a time when fresh fruits are scarce.