The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a fruit tree belonging to the Rosaceae family and comes from Southeast China, although it was the Japanese who expanded it to Europe as an ornamental tree during the 18th century.
The most widespread varieties in Japan, Algeria and some areas of the United States are: Advance, Indostac, Premier, Early Red or Thales. In Spain , the best known are the Tanaka and the Algerie, the former being the one that produces fruits with better flavor despite being a late-ripening species exposed to heat shock.
It is a cold-resistant fruit tree but does not require hours of cold for its development. In any case, even if it survives temperatures below zero, it is normal that it does not produce anything in areas where the temperature drops below 0ºC. In fact, the loquat is a coastal tree that does not tolerate strong winds, frosts or excessive heat from the sun.
Regarding the best land to grow a medlar, sandy soils with good drainage are ideal, but clay or limestone soils do not do well at all.
It is a tall tree that can easily reach 10 meters . Its large, long, wavy leaves emerge from branches that grow from far below and form a rounded crown.
It is an evergreen tree with flowers grouped in panicles that arrive in autumn and winter (from October to February) but the fruits do not ripen until April, as a general rule.
The fruit of the medlar is also called medlar and it is a small, more or less rounded fruit, first it is green, then it turns orange and has a very characteristic sweet taste, although it is common to find it with a slightly more acidic flavor when they are not fully ripe. Inside is a relatively thick brown seed.
The loquat is a tree that does not need large amounts of water to develop and produce fruit. Of course, the summer drought has a negative impact on the fruits and the rains do not do the small medlars a great favor either.
The loquat can be grown from fresh seeds but is usually reproduced by grafting . In the case of reproduction by seeds, the tree takes between eight and ten years to bear its first fruits, while if it is by grafting, this time is reduced to two years. On the other hand, it is very difficult to get a new loquat to grow from a branch or piece of another, planted directly in the ground.
By the time it blooms, frost can kill the flower (the tree, on the other hand, resists frost well) that is why it is a tree typical of areas with a warm Mediterranean climate, although due to the long flowering period it can bear some fruit in colder areas. It is cultivated in dry and irrigated land.
Medlars are a very fragile fruit that does not withstand refrigeration and transport, which limits its diffusion in cold countries.
Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.