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Eriobotrya japonica: Loquat

The loquat is cultivated throughout the world’s tropical and subtropical regions for its sweet, delicious fruit.

Despite its species name japonica, this original home of this tree isn’t Japan, but southeastern China. However, it made its way to Japan a very long time ago, and has been cultivated there for more than a thousand years.
The species‘ geographical indicator „Japanese“ comes from the Swedish doctor and botanist Carl Peter Thunberg. He was permitted to travel to Japan in 1776, a very rare honor for a European at that time. It was there that he discovered a small, evergreen fruit tree that he assumed was native to the country, and described it as „Japanese medlar“.

The scientific genus name Eriobotyra comes from the Greek for „woolly grape“. It refers to the dense, compact, hairy inflorescences that appear at the ends of the twigs in autumn. The fragrant blossoms are white or whitish-yellow in color.

The fruits of the Loquat ripen in spring. They’re about the size of apricots, yellow to orange in color, and round, pear-, or egg-shaped. When ripe, their smooth skin can be easily peeled off. The flesh of the Loquat smells something like an apple, and has a refreshing, sweet and sour taste. As the fruits are delicate and rot easily, they’re not usually exported in their raw state. Instead, they’re either eaten while fresh or made into marmelade, jelly, or beverages. Here in Germany, Loquats from Italy or Spain are sometimes available for a short time in the spring, often sold under the Italian name Nespoli. Cans of loquats preserved in syrup can also be found on the shelves of every Asian food store.

Audio file download
Eriobotrya japonica: Loquat (MP3, 759 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Ehrentraud Bayer, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg

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