There is this loquat tree next door that hangs over our front garden along the driveway. Though this small tree is quite attractive with its compact rounded shape and glossy large foliage, I have come into conclusion that it is annoyingly invasive. The problem is that the people next door don’t pick the fruits and I think they grow it for a decorative purpose rather than harvesting the little round yellow fruits. So as a result, most of the fruits are left over-ripe and drop on the ground. There are between two to four seeds in every fruit and they will grow everywhere on my garden bed.
To make the matter worse, it is not only the area underneath the overhang branches that the loquat seeds germinate, but they are everywhere. Strange you may think, but it makes sense if the neighbourhood kids pick some and eat them and they throw the seeds everywhere. Some kids don’t like the taste but they have fun throwing the whole fruits around, on the street, on our driveway and also all over my garden bed. The result is that I have loquat growing everywhere in my garden bed ‘all year around’. If I never bother to get rid of them my garden has already turned into loquat orchard. I don’t like the taste of loquat and even the birds or the possums don’t eat them.
I am surprise to find out that in China and Japan and also in other countries, people eat loquats. Here in Australia, people under value the taste of this fruit which is a blend of sweet and sappy tastes and has no definite aroma.
Loquat or Eriobotrya japonica (from Rosaceae family) is native to Southeastern part of China. These evergreen trees were introduced to Japan and had become quite popular and had been cultivated there for more than a thousand years. It is also known as Japanese plum or Japanese medlar.
Loquat is a small and attractive compact and rounded tree with big and long distinctive foliage. The alternate leaves are thick and glossy green. The young stems and branches are furry. Around where we live in Melbourne, it will bear white flowers in late winter or early spring and the fruits will ripe in late spring or early summer. There are quite a few varieties and most fruits are round but some are oval or pear-shape. In average, they are walnut size and they grow in clusters. When ripened, they are bright yellow, juicy and tangy sweet with some kind of sappy after taste. Each fruit has between two to four big coffee colour seeds.
Loquat fruits have to be consumed only when they are ripe as they can be toxic when they are still green. Can be eaten fresh or can be cooked as a stew with some sugar added. China and Taiwan produce canned loquat, but it is more popular to be processed as jams or jellies.
For many years, loquat has become popular to grow as an ornamental plant. Besides China and Japan, it is common in Australia, Southern United States, South America, Southern Europe, Middle East and Southern Asia.
Though loquat can make a good specimen for domestic garden, I still think that it is very invasive. I just hate to pull so many loquat seeds that have germinated and grown in my garden bed. Today, the loquat fruits next door are starting to get ripe and yet I still can find new growths from last year’s seeds. I am glad that I don’t see loquat plants for sale in the nurseries anymore. I just hope that this once very popular garden plant has lost its charms and people will not grow them anymore………