Winter Wonder: Why We Love Loquats!

Meet one of the coolest trees around… the lovely loquat, Eriobotrya japonica, a true Tree for All Seasons! What makes it so special? Well, for starters, it blooms right now. The dark of winter — December, January — when few, if any, plants are in flower. But the Loquat ignores all Common Sense …
… and bursts out in full bloom, much to the delight of the honeybees! (If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a bee carrying her pollen stash on her legs.)
One thing a photo can’t capture is the fragrance… heady, sweet but never cloying, a trace of vanilla… it’s unlike anything else, and I look forward to it all year. It has a marvelous way of drifting, traveling with the breeze and drawing you — and the bees — straight to the source!
The small, cream-coloured flowers aren’t overly showy, but the trees themselves have a lush, almost tropical beauty: foot-long, vividly green leaves, shiny on the tops and fuzzy underneath. As a tot, I would make loquat “shoes” every summer by tying the biggest leaves I could find to the soles of my feet with strips of grass. Come to think of it, when the weather warms up I just might make another pair; one can never be too old for Loquat Shoes!
And, of course, there’s the fruit — golden orange, sweet-tart, and filled with five or six giant, mahogany-brown seeds. Really, they contain far more seed than fruit, but we did make a tasty loquat marmalade one year…

… and the seeds themselves are worth saving, as they are easy to sprout if you’d like a loquat tree of your own! Just dry them for a week or so, then plant at a depth of about 1/2 inch in gallon pots, and keep moist but well-drained until they sprout. We usually have a few extras growing to give to beekeeper friends:
For such a showy tree, loquats are really quite well-behaved — no invasive roots or shoots, little raking or pruning required, tolerant of cold and heat, drought and frost. And, for the little care they do ask for, you’ll be rewarded all year long with luxuriant shade, tasty fruit and that splendid winter perfume! What more could you ask for than a loquat tree in your yard?


P.S. If you’d like some seeds to grow your own tree, just drop us a note! — bhranch @ gmail . com

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3 Comments

Filed under beekeeping, propagation, Winter

3 responses to “Winter Wonder: Why We Love Loquats!

  1. wendy nicholson

    Hi, My neighbor has planted a loquat on the boundary our garage and driveway are 4 feet away will the roots lift our concrete.
    many thanks, wendy.

  2. Boorinakis Harper Ranch

    Hi Wendy — we haven’t had any problems with loquat roots, and they seem to be very well-behaved trees. I would think, as long as the tree is properly planted and you have deep soil that the tree can get its roots down into, your driveway should be ok… if you have hardpan soil (little/no topsoil, can’t dig in it, almost like cement), the roots might be more likely to grow near the surface. But, generally speaking, loquats are pretty tough and adaptable. Thanks for visiting our blog!
    -julia

  3. alison

    hello, found your blog looking for a picture of a loquat tree, and am enchanted by the thought of loquat shoes! Now I want to try to grow one–I’m in the north though, so it’ll have to be a halfway indoor tree. Your tree looks lovely.

    all the best, Alison

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